MANILA - Senator Cynthia Villar wants a stiffer penalty for convicted smugglers, saying that those involved in a conspiracy or “syndicated smuggling” should not be allowed to post bail.
"Maybe it’s time to review ‘yung mga penalties sa ganito," said Villar, who also chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food.
“Kung syndicated smuggling, dapat non-bailable ‘yun. Kasi they make it a system. Dapat pinapara ang ganoon kasi ang losses sa government massive. ‘Yung mga maliliit, hindi masyado ‘yun e. Pero ‘yung system na parang monopoly nito, kino-control nila ang system where isang grupo will do smuggling na napakalalaki, unabated, medyo hindi na maganda ‘yun e.”
Villar has not seen a copy of the report that Customs deputy commissioner for intelligence Jessie Dellosa submitted to President Aquino but said she may ask for one.
Her committee may invite public officials being implicated to smuggling if the report is made public.
“Hindi ko pa nakikita ‘yun. I think it’s… confidential. Hindi ko pa alam ang presence ng document na ‘yun. It’s too early to say. But kung halimbawa, ma-furnish tayo at lumabas sa media na may such document, wala namang masamang imbitahin natin ‘yung mga ini-name doon para ma-explain naman nila ang side nila. Para kung hindi naman totoo, ma-explain nila. Kung totoo naman, makita ng general public ‘di ba,” she said.
As part of the ongoing Senate probe on rice smuggling, Villar said her committee will recommend to the Department of Justice that cases be filed against suspected smugglers.
The committee will also come up with recommendations on institutional reforms that the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Customs may carry out.
SENATOR LINKED TO SMUGGLING?
Meantime, Villar said she has heard about a senator being linked to smuggling but said no one has publicly accused the senator.
“Ang nadinig ko is close doon sa NFA, but not David Tan,” Villar said when asked about an unnamed senator being dragged to the controversy.
“Wala naman nagsasabi nito, unless may magsabi nito in public. But ako naman, ‘yung kasing tinawag ko, merong nag-witness against them so we have to clarify at may mga ties talaga. Ayaw ko namang mag-accuse ng walang basis kasi ‘di naman maganda for a Senate investigation na accuse ka nang accuse kahit walang basis. In fact, I try to tell [sa] mga nagco-complain that you have to have a basis. Kasi ayaw naman natin siraan ang isang tao na hearsay.”
Asked if she would invite the senator to the Senate hearing on rice smuggling, Villar said it is not a practice to invite senators being implicated in a controversy and that the senator would free to decide whether to attend.
“Medyo hirap kami ‘pag senador. Wala kaming nakikita pa na senador na accused na pumupunta sa hearing. Maski nga ‘yung sa PDAF, walang senador na accused na pumunta sa hearing. So meron kaming difficulty ‘pag fellow senators na. As much as possible ayaw namin unless sila ang gusto pumunta sa hearing at i-explain ang side nila. Maybe they can explain their side sa public through the media. Pero ako, kung ayaw nilang pumunta sa hearing ko at senador sila, fellow senators, it would be alright with me,” she said.
“We give them the right to decide whether they will come or not. Kung ayaw nila, okay din. Kung gusto nila, since gusto nila, then we will invite them. Pero pwede naman nila i-explain ‘yan sa media without the hearing.”