(Photo courtesy of League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post Facebook)

MANILA – If proven guilty of agricultural smuggling, government officials involved in the illicit activity should not last a day in office anymore.

Neophyte Senator-elect Robin Padilla said employees of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Customs (BOC), among those allegedly involved in massive agriculture smuggling as reported by the Senate Committee of the Whole, should have the “delicadeza” (propriety) to resign.

"Sa akin pong palagay, kung sinuman ang mapapatunayan diyan, unang-una mag-resign ka. Dapat ma-uso na sa Pilipinas ‘yung ganun eh, ‘yung resignation. Kapag medyo na-imbestigahan ka, unahan mo na kaagad ng resignation (I think, whoever will be proven [to be involved] should resign. Resignation should be a trend in the Philippines. Whenever you are being investigated, you should immediately file for resignation)," Padilla said in a press briefing Tuesday at the Senate building in Pasay City.

Padilla attended another orientation that explained Senate offices and their functions while Senators-elect Mark Villar and JV Ejercito joined a refresher course on legislative procedures.

Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay was dismayed over the inclusion of Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco in the Committee of the Whole Report No. 649, saying it is a result of failed intelligence, lacks details and explanation, has no material basis, and a product of misinformed guesses.

"Napaka-imposible at (It is impossible and there is) no way na maging (that he will become a) protector si Mayor Toby. I know him personally and I believe his name shouldn't have been in the list in the first place," Binay said in a statement on Tuesday.

Once the 19th Congress opens, Binay said she will file a resolution to also probe reported smuggling in the fisheries sector and what should be done to help the fishing industry.

"Kailangan ng mas malalim at mas focused na diskusyon at talakayan kung ano'ng naging problema ng mga mangingisda. Ano na ba ang nangyayari sa modernisasyon sa ilalim ng AFMA, at iba pa (There is a need of a deeper and more focused discussion about the problem of the fisherfolk. What happened to AFMA [Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act], among others)," Binay said.

She hopes, too, that the smuggling problem in the DA and BOC will be immediately addressed by the incoming administration.

On Tuesday, outgoing DA Secretary William Dar said the accused in the committee report signed by 17 senators must be able to defend themselves.

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

BOC chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero was also in the list, which has been submitted to Marcos. (PNA)