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Marcos ‘regrets’ backing Dar’s appointment as DA chief

MARCOS: “I really regret recommending Secretary Dar to the Department of Agriculture since he has done nothing but import rice, chicken, pork, fish, and now sugar.”

Suggesting there are other measures that the Department of Agriculture (DA) could implement to reduce rampant fish importation and smuggling, Senator Imee Marcos indicated Sunday she now “really regrets” endorsing the confirmation of DA Secretary William Dar by the Commission on Appointments.

“I really regret recommending Secretary Dar to the Department of Agriculture since he has done nothing but import rice, chicken, pork, fish, and now sugar,” Marcos said.

The disappointed Senator “found it suspect that cooperatives with no capacity to import millions of dollars’ worth of fish have again become certified importers.”

“Weren’t cooperatives also used to import rice, and garlic?” Marcos asked, adding: “How can one become an importer? Why does the DA have favored importers since January 2021 who can fill up a shortage at once, who have a supply in stock or smuggled in advance? Is this another Pharmally?”

The disappointed lawmaker lamented that “while everyone admires Mr. Willie’s record abroad…. Little did we know that upon returning to the Philippines he would fatten big importers and smugglers.”

She recalled that there were recommendations to shorten the closed fishing season or open it earlier, leave it open to commercial fishers in areas where there are severe shortages, assist the shipment of fish from Mindanao to areas in Luzon and Visayas suffering shortages, audit post-harvest investments like blast freezing and cold storage, maximize unutilized fishpond leases reaching 60 percent of total, and amend the Fisheries Code to require the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council endorsement before importation.

“It is clear that certificates of importation should be rescinded. There are pending cases of alleged smuggling filed by Navotas versus the DA and BFAR [Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources]. In my view, Filipino fishermen have basis once again to file cases of agricultural sabotage and technical smuggling against the DA, BFAR, PFDA [Philippine Fisheries Development Authority], and BOC [Bureau of Customs].”

Dar did not immediately respond to the BusinessMirror’s request for comment.

DA Spokesperson Noel Reyes told the BusinessMirror that Dar would rather not comment on the statements made by Marcos.

Nonetheless, Reyes said BFAR had the interest of consumers in mind when it recommended the importation of small pelagic fishes.

Image credits: PNA/Avito C. Dalan



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