Saturday, September 23, 2023


Consumer group wants expanded anti-Agri smuggling law

Consumer group Rights Action Philippines (RAP) is backing pending proposals aiming to curb smuggling of agricultural products that resulted in billions of pesos in foregone government revenues.

In a statement, Rey Dulay, RAP president urged lawmakers to push for the passage of House Bill (HB) 3917 and Senate Bill (SB) 1812 to strengthen the existing Republic Act (RA) 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

RA 10845 classifies the large-scale smuggling of commodities such as sugar, corn, pork, and vegetables as economic sabotage with a minimum penalty of P1 million and imprisonment of not less than 17 years.

HB 3917 and SB 1812, meanwhile, expand the coverage of RA 10845 to include raw and finished tobacco in the list of agricultural products given protection against big-time smuggling.

Authored by House Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte First District Representative Sandro A. Marcos and Assistant Majority Leader and PBA Party-List Representative Margarita Nograles, HB 3917 passed in the lower chamber in December 2022.

Recently, Senator Lito Lapid authored SB 1812 to advocate the passage of the bill in the Upper House.

“The massive smuggling and distribution of illegal tobacco products goes against the rights of consumers against unsafe products and deceptive business practices,” Dulay said.

“Importantly, it is damaging the government’s national health agenda of curbing tobacco use among Filipinos, especially the youth, since it allows easier access to cheap and sub-standard tobacco products,” he added.

Dulay also said the bill will clearly prevent youth smoking and could help efforts to reduce smoking incidence in the country. “For RAP, this is an urgent health and consumer rights bill versus unregulated tobacco.”

Dulay added that smuggled cigarettes cost as low as P30 to P35 per pack which makes it easier for adults and children to buy versus legal, tax-paid cigarettes which can only be bought at over P100 per pack.

Laboratory studies have shown that smuggled and illegally manufactured cigarettes have more chemicals and have been found to contain insect parts, rat droppings, and even human waste since there is no quality control.

RAP also said that tobacco smuggling impacts every Filipino. Estimated revenue losses by Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) range from P60 billion to P100 billion yearly.

Revenues from the tobacco industry fund the National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth).

“RAP supports proposals to strengthen the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling law since it promotes basic consumer rights. We laud the efforts of Cong. Marcos and Sen. Lapid for pushing this bill to protect and benefit millions of Filipinos,” Dulay ended.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap