Benguet gov: Smuggling, Baguio truck ban killing veggie industry

>> Thursday, June 22, 2017

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso said smuggling and the Baguio City truck ban are killing the province’s vegetable industry which supplies around 75 percent of Metro Manila and the country’s vegetable supply.
He assailed the Baguio City council for not exempting Benguet vegetable traders and farmers from the city’s truck ban saying farmers are losing money due to this.
Following this, a public hearing on the proposed amendments to Baguio City Ordinance No. 5 series of 2017 or the truck ban ordinance has been scheduled on June 20 at 9 a.m. at Sangguniang Panlungsod session hall.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan earlier submitted an administrative order to the city council which said this has to be discussed first in a public hearing.
Vice Mayor Edison Bilog proposed an amendatory measure imposing exemptions to some affected delivery trucks out of necessity.
 The proposed revisions were consolidated in a proposed amendatory ordinance introduced by the committee on public utilities, transportation and traffic legislation headed by Councilor Benny Bomogao.
 “The City Council deems it necessary to provide a regulated exemption to trucks loading perishable goods, mineral ores, those used in the implementation government projects and water delivery trucks.  There is also a need to amend the references of the truck ban to maximize the use of the circumferential roads,” the proponents noted.
 As proposed, heavy vehicles, trailers, dump and other freight trucks with gross weight capacity of more than 4,500 kg. shall not enter, traverse, park, load, unload or pass through main streets in Baguio from 6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 9 p.m.
But according to farmers, these were prime time when they had to pass city streets so they could catch up with market time to unload fruits and vegetables in the lowlands so these will not wilt.           
Farmers and farmers’ organizations also lamented proliferation of smuggled vegetables in the local market, which had adversely affected the province’s vegetable growing industry.
The farmers and traders raised the alarming issue during a recent visit of Sen. JV Ejercito here.
Ejercito, who authored Republic Act 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural smuggling law, said that he visited Benguet to enhance cooperation and consult local farmers on effects of the law on local agriculture and farmers.
Pacalso welcomed the Senator during his visit along with La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda, Kabayan Mayor Gideon Tadiano, Kibungan Mayor Manny Fermin, Itogon Mayor Victor Palangdan and Atok Mayor Peter Alos and local government officials to discuss the matter.
The Senator said the issue on smuggled vegetables will have a strong opponent in the passed RA 10845,
“We know that smuggled vegetables kill our farmers who are already burdened by the high cost of production,” Ejercito said.
He said for a nation where 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture as  sole means of livelihood, there is need for government to look after welfare of farmers and agricultural sector.
“I know that there are hard times in the agricultural sector, and any existence of smuggling of agricultural products will add insult to the already burdened economy to all of you, who live as subsistence farmers,” Ejercito said in addressing the farmers and the local government officials with regards to the issue.
He said he will call the attention of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to go after and cause prosecution of smugglers.

Ejercito also promised to dig deeper into reports that smuggled vegetables are laden with formalin to extend shelf life. – With a report from Aileen P. Refuerzo


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