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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap lauded the ongoing efforts of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the conduct of raids of warehouses suspected of stockpiling smuggled vegetables to curb the proliferation of the same that significantly affect the buying prices of locally produced vegetables in the vegetable-producing communities of the province.
Yap, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, disclosed that Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero made a commitment to him that the BOC will sustain the conduct of the appropriate operations to contain the alleged smuggling of vegetables like carrots, broccoli, ginger, red onions, among others, which directly compete with locally produced vegetables that lower the buying prices of the agricultural crops as the smuggled ones are reportedly much cheaper.
Earlier, Yap called for a congressional inquiry on the alleged smuggling of carrots that have significantly affected the prevailing buying prices of the locally produced vegetable to ensure that concerned government agencies will do the appropriate actions to curb the said illegal entry of vegetables and identify the persons responsible for them to be appropriately charged.
The Benguet Caretaker Congressman called on the BOC to further intensify their intelligence gathering so that the agency can immediately identify the illegal activities of importers in trying to sneak into the country vegetables from other countries that directly compete with locally produced ones that cause the drastic drop in the buying prices of the same.
Congressman Yap underscored that the primordial consideration of the welfare of the thousands of vegetable-producing farmers from Benguet and some parts of Mountain Province and Ifugao who always suffer the consequences once smuggled vegetables will flood the market because of the drastic decline in buying prices of agricultural crops leading to the heavy losses that will be incurred by the stakeholders.
According to him, concerned government agencies should not allow smuggled vegetables to flood the markets because it will always be the farmers who will be at the losing end as their produce will not be bought and that their efforts to produce the same will be rendered useless as they will not be able to earn their desired income due to the drastic drop in the buying prices caused by the smuggling of vegetables.
Benguet is the source of more than 80 percent of the semi-temperate vegetables being sold in the different markets around the country.
Yap sourced out some P25 million from the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) under the social welfare department where some 5,000 farmers from the different municipalities were able to benefit from the said assistance by virtue of the P5,000 each that were distributed to them in coordination with the concerned municipal agriculture offices of the 13 towns.
He assured concerned stakeholders that his office will continue to look for ways and means on how to continue extending the appropriate assistance to the vulnerable and marginalized sectors who had been heavily impacted by the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. By HENT