The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines -- Hog producers, chicken growers, including vegetable producers on Wednesday threatened to mount a "market holiday" if rampant smuggling of agricultural products would not be stopped.
AGAP party-list Rep. Nicanor Briones, in a press conference held at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City, said the hog and chicken producers, including vegetable growers have now joined forces in calling on the government, particularly the Bureau of Customs (BoC), to stop the rampant smuggling of agricultural products which resulted in P20 billion losses in government revenues.
Briones said they will give the BoC two weeks to stop smuggling of farm produce or they will launch a five-day market holiday nationwide, which means no pork, chicken, and vegetables will be sold in the market.
They also urged BoC Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon to implement the Inward Foreign Manifest (IFM), which he earlier agreed on.
The IFM provides critical import data two days before the shipment arrives.
Briones said the IFM gives the Department of Agriculture (DA) information necessary to confiscate the smuggled goods and charge the suspected smugglers upon the arrival of the imported products.
He also hit on Biazon for not conducting investigation on the identified Top 10 meat importers to check their legitimacy.
Rosendo So, Abono party-list chairman and director of the Swine Development Council (SDC), for his part, called on the BoC chief to stop making "palusot" and just go after the big smugglers which had already affected the agriculture sector some P6 million losses daily due to rampant smuggling.
He also called for a total revamp at the BoC.
On the other hand, Daniel Javellana Jr., chairman, National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI), has called for a 100 percent inspection of meat imports with 5-7 percent tariff, which the BoC had also failed to implement until now.
The BoC has proposed that a cold storage facility be put up outside the Customs area so they can implement a total inspection of all meat imports.
Meanwhile, Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) Executive Director Francisco Buencamino, in a chance interview, said they are supporting the hog raisers call to stop unabated smuggling in the country.
Buencamino said they also want to purge their ranks and are looking for ways to curb technical smuggling in the country.
An estimated P8.5 billion was lost from July 2011 to February 2012, with 2.2 million hogs sold each month.
Technical smuggling also caused the government to lose some P3.7 billion in revenues annua