Expanded bill vs economic sabotage sponsored at House plenary

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2023 01:12 AM

ABS-CBN News/file
A produce vendor attends to the store’s inventory of both local and imported onions at a public market in Marikina City on January 25, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — A measure seeking to declare the large-scale hoarding, profiteering, cartelizing and other acts of market abuse of agriculture and fishery commodities as economic sabotage has reached the plenary at the House of Representatives.

House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga sponsored House Bill 9284 on Friday. 

Apart from expanding the acts prosecutable as economic sabotage, the measure also imposes heavier penalties. 

It proposes to increase the minimum period of imprisonment to at least 20 years from the current 12 years, and the monetary fine to six times the fair market value of commodities subject to illicit activities from the current two times. 

The measure also reduces the threshold for large-scale smuggling from the current P10 million to only P1 million.

To speed up the investigation and prosecution of acts mentioned in the bill, it establishes the Anti Agri-Fishery Commodities and Tobacco Economic Sabotage Council and provides for the creation of the Anti Agri-Fishery Commodities and Tobacco Economic Sabotage Task Force.

“The law aims to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector and to protect Filipino farmers and agricultural enterprises from unscrupulous traders and importers.,” Enverga said.

“Walang habas ang pagpupuslit ng mga produktong agrikultura sa ating bansa… Habang nalulugi ang ating magsasaka at mangingisda, patuloy ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin na nagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan,” Committee Vice Chairperson Representative Mikaela Suansing added during her sponsorship speech.

The lower chamber also terminated on Friday the period for sponsorship and debate for House Bill 9284.