Baguio City, Philippines – The League of Associations of La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas expressed support on the request of the Department of Agriculture for police power for the agency to chase vegetable smugglers.
As explained by Agot Balanoy, the president of said trade group in an interview with GMA News' "Unang Balita" on Thursday, April 28, 2022, they are amenable to said proposal as DA does not have the power to arrest smugglers but can only report issues to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
"Pwede po sana. Parang maganda rin po iyon kasi parang iyon po ang isang rason kaya naaantala po yung paghuli nila sa mga na-iinspect dahil instead of huhulihin na lang sana, e wala pala silang police power," Balanoy said.
Balanoy further told that in the past days, they observed that there is a decrease in the demand of carrots in Divisoria and in Balintawak.
This, she said is a result of the presence of Chinese suppliers in said areas who are believed to have been supplying smuggled carrots to customers directly which include restaurant owners.
Aside from carrots, Balanoy reported that other vegetables being smuggled in the market include broccoli, leeks and celery, consistent in a previous statement of DA Undersecretary Fermin Dantes Adriano.
Further, Balanoy stated that there is a possibility that smuggled carrots being sold has added chemicals which could affect consumers’ well-being.
As recalled, DA has previously mentioned during a press briefing that the agency he leads is in need of police powers in order to arrest and file cases against smugglers.
Consistent to the statement of Balanoy, the Agriculture Undersecretary has also mentioned that they are only allowed under the law to conduct collaboration with the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and that they cannot apprehend smugglers.
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