Senate measure tags smuggling, hoarding, profiteering as economic sabotage

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Senate measure classifies smuggling, hoarding as economic sabotage
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  • A proposed Senate measure classifies agricultural goods smuggling, hoarding, profiteering and engaging in cartel behavior as acts of economic sabotage
  • Economic sabotage crimes are non-bailable
  • Senate Bill No. 2432 (Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act) seeks to repeal the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, which already classifies agricultural smuggling as a form of economic sabotage
  • SB 2432 aims to create a special court focusing on cases of agricultural smuggling, cartel, hoarding and profiteering
  • It also seeks to remove the Bureau of Customs power to sue agricultural smugglers, hoarders

A proposed Senate measure classifies agricultural goods smuggling, hoarding, profiteering and engaging in cartel behavior as acts of economic sabotage.

Economic sabotage crimes are non-bailable.

Senate Bill No. 2432 (Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act) seeks to repeal the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, which already classifies large-scale agricultural smuggling as a form of economic sabotage.

RELATED READ: New PH law tags agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage

Under SB 2432, individuals engaged in smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel behavior of agricultural and fishery products amounting to at least P1 million face severe penalty.

The bill also creates a special court focusing on cases of agricultural smuggling, cartel, hoarding and profiteering.

Senator Cynthia Villar, head of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, said the Supreme Court “has agreed that we will create a court specifically for anti-agricultural smuggling and cartel hoarding laws, similar in stature of Sandiganbayan.”

She said cartels and hoarding are causing the high prices of rice.

Villar’s committee is one of four that has approved the bill. The three others are the  Senate committees on justice, finance, and ways and means.

Under SB 2432, an Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Council will be formed to be headed by the President or a designated permanent representative. The council will be composed of agencies and representatives of agricultural sectors.

SB 2432 said the council will not only ensure “proper and effective” implementation of the proposed law but it will also have the power to direct speedy investigation and prosecution of all violators.

It can freeze violators’ funds, properties, bank deposits, placements, trust accounts, assets and records.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri agreed on the need to include hoarding and profiteering as acts of economic sabotage. “Because it’s price manipulation and it will cause price manipulation. The farmers are duly disadvantaged, and the people are having a very difficult time,” he said.

In addition, SB 2432 seeks to remove the Bureau of Customs power to sue agricultural smugglers and hoarders.

“A different agency will file cases. It’s no longer Bureau of Customs because I think there’s a conflict of interest,” Villar explained.

SB2432 is pending on second reading.

Zubiri and Villar are looking at the passage of the bill before Congress takes a break this year.