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‘Fire DA execs involved  in smuggling’

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
âFire DA execs involved  in smugglingâ
“The local livestock industry, the farmers and fisherfolk, the local producers, including some legislators, are expecting change in policy, not continuity of inutility,” House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan said in his counter-State of the Nation Address (SONA) titled “On Board the Same Ship, with Different Perspective.”
Andy G. Zapata Jr., file

MANILA, Philippines — While President Marcos’ decision to temporarily take over the helm of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop the P10-billion annual losses to agricultural smuggling is laudable, his decision to keep the same officials involved makes it questionable, according to a lawmaker.

“The local livestock industry, the farmers and fisherfolk, the local producers, including some legislators, are expecting change in policy, not continuity of inutility,” House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan said in his counter-State of the Nation Address (SONA) titled “On Board the Same Ship, with Different Perspective.”

“We can neither allow the remnants of the previous DA leadership to forfeit the people’s chance for a better and robust agriculture. The President should fire them, before we agree to increasing the DA budget,” Libanan of the 4Ps party-list said.

The leader of the 25-member House opposition bloc lamented that these officials who served during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte still “cling like barnacles that necessarily slow down the movement of the sea craft.”

“Even the President’s sister (Sen. Imee Marcos) expected some heads to roll, and some smugglers arrested. Yet, the SONA was quiet about it,” Libanan said after observing Marcos’ July 25 maiden SONA.

“The SONA was comprehensive, but did not make an issue of the unabated economic sabotage that is almost of judicial notice,” the lawmaker said in his counter-SONA.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House ways and means committee, earlier proposed that it would be best for the government to file non-bailable charges of economic sabotage against the culprits behind the smuggling, which have only disadvantaged farmers.

“Large-scale agricultural smuggling is the single gravest sin to Philippine society today,” Salceda said, invoking Republic Act 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.

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