Newly-appointed agriculture secretary Francisco “Sec Kiko” Tiu Laurel, Jr., said that law enforcers have captured a big-time onion smuggler in Batangas.
At around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, police operatives arrested Jayson de Roxas Taculog for violating Republic Act 10845, or the law declaring large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage.The arrest warrant was issued by Presiding Judge Edilu Hayag of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26. No bail was recommended.
“Umpisa pa lang si Taculog. Sa tulong ng pulis, korte at lokal na pamahalaan, patuloy na tutugisin ng Department of Agriculture ang mga smuggler at sumasabotahe sa ating sektor (Taculog’s arrest is just the beginning. With help from the police, the courts, and local government units, the Department of Agriculture will continue to run after smugglers and economic saboteurs),” Tiu Laurel said in a statement.
Taculog was arrested for using fake, fictitious, or fraudulent import permits or shipping documents. Aside from evading payment of taxes and duties, he was also charged with misclassification, undervaluation, or misdeclaration of import entry and revenue declaration submitted with the Bureau of Customs. At the same time, he was accused of acting as the broker for a violating importer.
If found guilty, Taculog faces the possibility of life imprisonment. He may also be fined twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural products and the aggregate amount of taxes, duties, and other charges he avoided paying.
“Isa sa mga utos ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. na habulin ang mga smugglers at hoarders. Agad nating inaksyunan ang direktibang ito ng Pangulo (One of the President’s marching orders is to go after smugglers and hoarders. We immediately implemented the President’s directive),” Tiu Laurel said.
“Sinisira ng mga smuggler at hoarder ang kabuhayan ng mga maliliit na magsasaka at mangingisda. Sinasamantala nila ang mga Pilipinong consumer sa mataas na presyo ng pagkain (Smugglers and hoarders are destroying not just the livelihood of our farmers. They are exploiting Filipino consumers with high food prices),” he added.
To recall, the DA, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Customs (BOC), successfully seized P78.9 million worth of illegally imported agricultural goods consigned to Taculog J International Consumer Goods Trading during separate operations at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) from December 2022 to January 2023.
Based on the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, large-scale agricultural smuggling occurs when at least P10 million worth of rice or at least P1 million worth of sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables—either raw, processed, or preserved—is illegally brought into the country.
It will be recalled that onion prices spiked starting in September 2022 and peaked in January 2023 at between P400 and P700 per kilogram. ###