According to the consumer group Malayang Konsyumer, there is no problem with the food supply in the country, thanks to the government’s various imports of agricultural products. However, the group asserts that the real problem lies in the activities of cartels, hoarders, and profiteers who manipulate prices by hiding and withholding agricultural products from the market.
To address this issue, Atty. Simoun Salinas, spokesperson of Malayang Konsyumer, is calling for an amendment to Republic Act 10845 or the “Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.” Several proposed bills have been submitted in the Senate to amend the Anti-Smuggling Law, including Senate Bill 1688 by Sen. JV Ejercito and Senate Bill 1812 by Sen. Lito Lapid.
However, the group is opposing Lapid’s proposal because it includes tobacco and cigarettes in the Anti-Smuggling Act. Salinas favors Ejercito’s proposal because it targets the people behind hoarding, profiteering, cartels, and other abuses in the agricultural product market. Under Ejercito’s proposal, these activities would be considered a form of economic sabotage and would come with severe punishment.
Salinas and Christian Real, the Malayang Konsyumer Convenor, argue that the amendments to the Anti-Smuggling Law aim to improve its implementation, but they should focus on the offenses that directly affect Filipino consumers. Additionally, Real emphasized that the government must monitor the exorbitant prices of food products controlled by cartels and other opportunistic groups.
In summary, while there is no problem with the food supply in the country, the issue lies in the activities of cartels, hoarders, and profiteers that manipulate prices. To address this problem, the government must amend the Anti-Smuggling Law and target the individuals and groups behind these illegal activities. However, any amendment to the law should be aimed at directly benefiting Filipino consumers and should not include offenses that are not related to the issue at hand. Finally, the government should keep a close eye on the high prices of food products controlled by cartels and other groups that take advantage of the market.