Farmers’ group tells voters: Vote officials sensitive to aggie sector

>> Friday, May 6, 2022

Veggie smuggling decried 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A farmers group here said they feel left out by top officials of the province as their problems related to the vegetable industry were not being addressed.
    “We feel left off, we feel orphaned,” said Augusta Balanoy, spokesperson of the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LALTVTP), as she described the state of the vegetable industry in separate interviews over the radio last week.
    “This is the worst case for the Benguet vegetable industry. It has been 10 months now, our farmers are suffering. Benguet farmers are losing an estimate of P2.5 million daily because of illegally imported vegetables now flooding the market,” Balanoy said. “During the time of then Governor Nestor Fongwan, whenever we complained about the entry of illegally imported vegetables, this got addressed immediately. At the most, it took about a week for illegally imported vegetables to stop being traded in markets in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.”
    She added: “This time around, we feel left out, we feel our provincial leaders don’t care about our plight, it has been 10 months now and we still have to see concrete action coming from our provincial officials to stop smuggled vegetables from entering the market. We don’t feel the presence of our provincial officials protecting the industry amidst this illegal importation continuously happening for 10 months now.”
    She added during the time of then Gov. Fongwan, whenever they visited his office regarding reports of vegetable smuggling, he immediately called concerned agencies and even the Office of the President to help monitor and address the issue. “But now, we never felt this concern from our present provincial officials, we feel orphaned, we feel alone in this fight against illegal importation, Balanoy said.
    “We have continuously brought up this issue with our provincial officials, 10 months is long enough, it seems they did not do anything or if they did do something it seems it is not effective", she said.
    “This coming election, I urge our province mates to think, about it, if we elect the wrong leaders, our vegetable industry will suffer for another three years more.”
     Meanwhile, lawyer Richard Kilaan, lead convenor of Lawyers for Farmers said there was need to institutionalize the Anti-Vegetable Smuggling Task Force to counter illegal vegetable importation.
     “We saw that the task force was indeed a deterrent to the vegetable smuggling problem, during the time of then Gov. Fongwan. However, this was not continued during the succeeding administrations because it was formed by virtue of an executive order, it is high time the province institutionalize it as part of the provincial government structure,” Kilaan said.


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