DOJ supports amendment making smuggling ‘economic sabotage’

THE Department of Justice has endorsed a proposed legislation in the Senate that would amend the country’s Tariff and Customs Code and declare smuggling as an act tantamount to economic sabotage.

In a two-page legal opinion, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Senate Bill 2348 (An Act Amending Presidential Decree 1464, otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code Of The Philippines, To Define Smuggling As An Act That Constitutes Economic Sabotage, To Provide The Appropriate Punishment and Penalties, And For Other Purposes), authored by Sen. Grace Poe, is needed to make the country’s tariff and customs regulations responsive to the needs of the time.

However, de Lima said the proposed penalties are too light, considering the gravity of the offense committed.

“This department recognizes the fact that our country is in need of a new tariff and customs law that will be responsive to the demands of modern trade and commerce and, in particular, address the problem of rampant smuggling of goods, which not only hampers the businesses of legitimate importers but also greatly contributes to the nation’s economic stability,” de Lima said.

“Further, this department is of the opinion that such offense may be appropriately classified as constituting “economic sabotage” and may be penalized as proposed in such measure,” she added.

De lima issued the legal opinion upon the request of Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who chaired the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

She said it is well within the authority of Congress to come up with laws and introduce statutory changes to laws, including revenue and tariff bills, when it deems that such legislation does not anymore serves its purpose. But de Lima said the penalties against smugglers should be life imprisonment.

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A UST journalism graduate, has been working as a reporter for more than 20 years.

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