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Consumer group urges quick passage of bill amending anti-agri smuggling law

A consumer group is calling for the immediate passage of a measure that will expand the coverage of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
Malayang Konsumer spokesperson Atty. Simoun Salinas has issued a statement supporting the approval of Senate Bill 1688, saying the proposed amendments are "a timely intervention given the rising prices of goods like onions."
"[A]mendments aimed at improving the law should focus on offenses that are harmful to Filipino consumers and households, those crimes we consider to be large-scale and prevalent [enough] to amount to economic sabotage. That's why SB 1688 includes profiteering, hoarding, and the like," Salinas said.
MK convenor Christian Real said that "smuggling of essential food items is a big concern, but it's not the only problem we need to address."
"May supply ka nga, tinatago naman at ipinagkakait sa merkado. Hindi nga smuggled ang food items, pero ang mahal naman ng presyo dahil kontrolado ng cartel at ng mga mapagsamantala at ganid na grupo," said Real.
In January, Senator JV Ejercito filed Senate Bill 1688, which seeks to consider hoarding, profiteering, and cartels on sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables in the amount of P1 million or rice in the amount of P10 million as economic sabotage.
SB 1688 also seeks to create an Inter-Agency Council on Economic Intelligence, which will be composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs, Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Philippine Competition Commission, National Security Council, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. — VBL, GMA Integrated News