INAUGURATION. Benguet officials, led by Governor Melchor Diclas (7th from left), take their oath of office at the capital town, La Trinidad, on Wednesday (June 29, 2022). The officials rallied residents to protect their primary source of income by helping fight the smuggling of agricultural products. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Provincial officials on Wednesday urged residents to help in the local government's fight against the smuggling of vegetables.

"Let us be united in helping each other minimize, if not stop, the smuggling of agricultural products," Governor Melchor Diclas on Wednesday said in Ilocano during his oath-taking ceremony.

He said the locals can help the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs to fight smuggling by patronizing locally sourced agricultural products.

Melchor said agriculture to the province and the people is vital, being one of the two primary sources of income for the people of Benguet, apart from mining.

The DA earlier said about two million kilograms of assorted vegetables are traded at the different trading facilities in the capital town daily with Benguet producing 85 percent of the highland commodities and brought to the different markets nationwide.

In an interview with the media, incoming Vice governor Ericson Felipe vowed to support the national government in its efforts to put an end to the smuggling of agricultural products.

He also lauded incoming President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. for taking the helm of the agriculture department.

"We have strong hopes that he will act on the problems of the agriculture sector knowing its importance,' said Felipe, a neophyte vice governor. (PNA)