Fulfilling his vow to go after rice smugglers and hoarders, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. led on Tuesday the distribution of confiscated smuggled rice to less fortunate families in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay as he led the turnover of other assistance to the residents and the local government units in the province.
In his speech, President Marcos assured the government and his administration are working tirelessly to put an end to the smuggling, which adversely affected the agricultural sector in the country.
“Kailangan sapat ang pagkain para sa ating mga kababayan. Kasama diyan ay pinapatibay natin ang sistema ng agrikultura. Ngunit hindi lamang, yun ang nagiging problema sa agrikultura dito sa Pilipinas, ang isang napakalaking problema ay ang pag-smuggle ng bigas papasok ng Pilipinas,” President Marcos said.
“Hindi lamang pag-ayos ng agricultural sector ang ating kailagang gawin. Kailangan din nating pagtibayin ang ating pag-impose ng mga batas tungkol nga sa pagbigay ng suplay ng bigas sa atin, sa buong Pilipinas. Hindi tama na nagpapasok sila, iniipit nila ang suplay, pinapataas nila ang presyo, naghihirap ang tao para lang kumita sila ng malaki,” he added.
President Marcos said he has already instructed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to focus on the campaign against smugglers to put an end to their illegal operations. He also commended the bureau for their successful seizure of 42,180 bags of imported rice worth P42 million at a warehouse in Barangay San Jose Gusu, Zamboanga City on September 15, 2023.
The President stood firm that the government adhered to due process in confiscating the smuggled items by giving the respondents a 15-day notice to hear their side of the story.
“Nabigyan na sila ng 15 days, wala silang naisagot kaya’t kinuha na ng gobyerno at ginawa naming donation sa DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] … ang sabi ko, ang pinakanangangailangan diyan ang mga beneficiaries ng 4Ps,” President Marcos said.
“Iyon po ay patuloy nating pag-aasikaso para tignan natin na maging maganda ang patakbo ng mercado sa bigas dahil alam naman natin kung gaano kahalaga ang suplay ng bigas sa magandang presyo para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” the chief executive added.
President Marcos assured the Filipino people that the government is ready to assist the affected less fortunate individuals.
DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian was present during the distribution of rice along with NFA Administrator Roderico Bioco, BOC Deputy Commissioner Vener Baquiran, Philippine Air Force Brig. Gen. Dennis Estrella, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, and other officials.
President Marcos also led the turnover of PhP6.72 million worth of DA-Philippine Rural Development Project Investment for Rural Enterprises and Agricultural and Fisheries Productivity (DA-PRDP); PhP11.84 million worth of DA-PRDP I-REAP; and PhP1.5 million worth of DA Kadiwa Financial Grant (Hauling Vehicle).
The President also distributed PhP1 million worth of DA Kadiwa Financial Grant (trading capital); PhP1.5 million worth of DA Kadiwa Financial Grant (vehicle and working capital); PhP59,043 worth of Assistance Certificate from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR): PhP76,620 worth of Mackerel Drift Gillnet; and PhP4,000 worth of eight rolls-PE Rope No. 10mm.
The chief executive also led the distribution of PhP120 million worth of assistance under the “Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantages/Displaced Workers” of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and PhP530,000 worth of DOLE livelihood assistance. PND