FACE ACCUSERS. Agriculture Secretary William Dar delivers his speech during the celebration of the 124th founding anniversary of the Department of Agriculture on June 20. Dar on Monday (June 27, 2022) said agricultural officials identified in a Senate report as alleged smugglers or protectors must be given a chance to face their accusers and defend themselves. (Photo Courtesy: Department of Agriculture)

MANILA – Outgoing Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said Monday agriculture officials tagged in a Senate report as “agricultural smugglers or protectors” in the country must be given a chance to face their accusers.

In a Viber message, Dar said these officials, which were included in the intelligence report submitted to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, must be able to defend themselves.

"Let the three officials named in the report be given a chance to face their accusers, and defend themselves in the proper forum," he said.

Dar made the statement following the disclosure of the list in the Senate Committee Report 649 of the Senate Committee of the Whole, signed by 17 senators.

Included in the list were Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director George Culaste, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Eduardo Gongona, among others.

Bureau of Customs Chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero was also on the list along with other customs and agriculture officials, as well as several local government officials and private individuals.

Earlier, Sotto said he had submitted the list to incoming agriculture chief, and President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Sotto said he is hopeful the smuggling and corruption issue will be immediately addressed as Marcos will take the helm of the agriculture department. (PNA)