Officials and personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA)–including clerks and security guards–ought to be subjected to a thorough, top to bottom lifestyle check.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Ray Reyes made this call amid heated public commentary on agricultural smuggling, which has caused prices of basic commodities like onions to skyrocket.
“The Office of the Ombudsman should move and start a lifestyle check on these people. Since time immemorial, BOC had been known for unscrupulous transactions. Employees working as early as eight months, could be seen owning luxury cars. How is that even possible?” Reyes asked.
“Rising prices of agricultural commodities due to the complicity in smuggling of some in DA also indicates that huge syndicates operate within and are behind all these. We, consumers, pay the price of their corruption,” added the neophyte congressman.
The House Committee on Ways and Means conducted on Monday, Jan. 23 an inquiry into the smuggling of basic commodities. The inquiry showed that the price of local agricultural products such as onions and sugar are significantly higher than in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Paraguay.
The probe also uncovered that almost P5 billion worth of revenue is uncollected due to rampant smuggling of agricultural products.
“Almost P5 billion of revenue is lost due to the smuggling of agricultural products. It is high time that all these people are subjected to lifestyle checks, from top to bottom. No sacred cows. No holy onions. From the heads of offices, even down to the clerks and security guards,” Reyes said.
Agricultural smuggling has become more prevalent amid the Covid-19 pandemic based on intelligence reports received by the ways and means panel.
This supposedly indicates increasing trends in underreported importation of agricultural goods.
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