MANILA — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday confirmed meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. Monday night, during which they tackled the administration’s concerns about rampant smuggling activities in the country.
The said meeting, however, did not touch on any names being linked to smuggling activities, the senator said.
“We did not discuss names, we did not discuss names,” was Zubiri’s reply when asked if the name “Martin Araneta” was ever mentioned during their discussion on the matter.
Journalist Mon Tulfo, in a social media post, alleged that Martin Araneta, First Lady Liza Araneta’s younger brother, is reportedly connected to Michael Ma, president of China-Philippine United Enterprises, who the journalist claimed manipulates the prices of onion in the market.
Before this, Zubiri said the President addressed Sen. Imee Marcos’s appeal for him to arrest suspected bigtime smugglers.
“Sabi ko, 'Mr. President, your sister, your ate (Sen Marcos), is requesting na sana may mahuling smugglers.' Ang sabi niya, kung sa huli, kaya niyang magpahuli, pero ang problema, they want to make sure that maganda yung case files, or dapat yan ay may sapat na ebidensiya,” Zubiri said.
“Kasi kung hindi, huhulihin mo nga, after a few days, maa-ano din siya, makakalaya din ang smugglers. Pero ako, I agree with Sen. Imee Marcos, that smuggling now of agricultural products is considered as economic sabotage. So, therefore, dapat hulihin talaga ang mga smugglers na yan. And price manipulators. Bakit naman, katulad niyan, all of a sudden, yung garlic, umabot ng ilang daan? I think P400 yung garlic,” he added.
Zubiri believes that there are really groups controlling the prices of agricultural products in the country.
For the senator, existing laws addressing price manipulation and hoarding must be strongly implemented.
“Pwede silang multahan, pwede silang kasuhan… Dapat makulong itong mga ito. Kaya, the President’s hands are tied. He has no other choice but to import, when we cannot control the prices on the ground. Kasi, you have to look at the greater good of the people,” he said.
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