President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 2432 defining the crime of agricultural economic sabotage and creating an anti-agricultural economic sabotage council.
“The need to facilitate the passage of this important piece of legislation is imperative, especially now that the country is beset by rising prices and shortages in agricultural products partly due to the nefarious acts of smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel. It will also promote the productivity of the agriculture sector, protect farmers and fisherfolk from unscrupulous traders and importers, ensure reasonable and affordable agricultural and fishery products for consumers,” Marcos said in his formal letter to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri dated September 20, 2023.
The measure imposes severe sanctions against acts of smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel of agricultural and fishery products, including a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine thrice the value of the agricultural and fishery products subject of the crime as economic sabotage.
Any government officer or employee found to be an accomplice in the commission of the crime shall “suffer the additional penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, exercising the right to vote, from participating in any public election, and forfeiture of employment monetary and financial benefits,” the bill read.
When the offender is a juridical person, criminal liability shall be attached to all officers who participated in the decision that led to the commission of the crime, with a penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to engage in any business involving importation, transportation, storage and warehousing, and domestic trade of agricultural and fishery products.
Government authorities have the right to confiscate the agricultural and fishery products which are subject of the prohibited acts and the properties used in the commission of the crime of agricultural economic sabotage such as, but not limited to, vehicles, vessels, aircrafts, storage areas, warehouses, boxes, cases, trunks, and other containers of whatever character used as receptacle of agricultural and fishery products.
The bill is currently under the period of interpellations in the Senate, while a Technical Working Group is finalizing the version of the House of Representatives.
The proposed measure is among the expanded Common Legislative Agenda discussed during the 3rd LEDAC Meeting.