President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has certified as urgent a bill imposing stiffer penalties against “agricultural economic sabotage,” Malacañang said on Thursday.
This after the Chief Executive sent a letter to Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri last Wednesday certifying as urgent the approval of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2432, which will repeal Republic Act No. 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.
“The need to facilitate the passage of this important piece of legislation is imperative, especially now that the country is beset by rising prices and shortages in agricultural products partly due to nefarious acts of smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel,” the letter read.
The bill is now pending in the period of interpellations in the Senate, while its counterpart measure in the House of Representatives is being finalized by a technical working group.
SB 2432 mandates the creation of the Anti-agricultural Economic Sabotage Council.
It also defined the crime of agricultural economic sabotage, which will include smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel of agricultural and fishery products.
Those engaged in the said illegal acts will face stiff penalties including life imprisonment and a fine thrice the value of the agricultural and fishery products.
Any government officer or employee, who will be found to be involved in such crimes will face additional penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, exercising the right to vote, from participating in any public election, and forfeiture of employment monetary and financial benefits.”
“When the offender is a juridical person, criminal liability shall be attached to all officers who participated in the decision that led to the commission of the crime, with a penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to engage in any business involving importation, transportation, storage and warehousing, and domestic trade of agricultural and fishery products,” a Palace statement read.
“Government authorities also have the right to confiscate the agricultural and fishery products which are subject of the prohibited acts and the properties used in the commission of the crime of agricultural economic sabotage such as, but not limited to, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, storage areas, warehouses, boxes, cases, trunks, and other containers of whatever character used as receptacle of agricultural and fishery products,” the statement added.
SBN 2432 is among the expanded Common Legislative Agenda discussed during the Third Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council meeting last Wednesday.