MANILA (Mabuhay) — “Smuggling is bigger than PDAF,” so said Senator Cynthia Villar, who on Thursday expressed her disappointment at the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) continued failure to file cases against suspected smugglers.
At the hearing of the Senate committee on finance on the proposed 2016 national budget, Villar asked why the government was allowing private individuals to import rice, when in reality she said these importers are the “smugglers.”
“That’s common knowledge, you’re turning a blind to the reality that the importers are the smugglers,” she said.
“We conducted a very long hearing on that and it’s unfortunate that after conducting long hearing on that, the DOJ failed to file cases against the smugglers.”
“And you know you file a lot of cases on PDAF but you did not file any case of smuggler. Smuggling is bigger than PDAF. The loss in smuggling is bigger than PDAF,” said Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture.
PDAF is priority development assistance fund also known as the “pork barrel” funds.
Three senators— Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.—were among those charged with plunder and detained over the pork barrel scam.
Senator Loren Legarda, who’s presiding over the budget hearing as head of the finance committee, recalled that an estimated P200 billion was lost to smuggling as mentioned during Wednesday’s hearing of the committee.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima confirmed that the amount was correct, saying the estimate was based on various studies. .
Legarda also wondered why until now the problem on smuggling has never been cured.
“The same issues are brought up every year and it’s never cured. It’s like jueteng. We have a committee hearing every year… the ill is never cured. It’s so entrenched,” she said. (MNS)