(File photo)

MANILA – Senator Imee Marcos on Wednesday urged concerned agencies to capture and arrest agriculture smugglers who still continue to operate despite existing laws.

Marcos said these smugglers have obviously established accomplices in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Customs (BoC).

"Kilala naman natin kung sino sila. Kanina yung dinadaing yung gulay. Aba'y yung gulay, alam naman ng lahat. Yung Michael yan, kilala naman ng lahat yung Leah Cruz. Sikat na sikat ang yang mga yan eh. Tapos yung bigas, alam naman natin yung David Tan Bangayan (We all know them. Earlier, concerns on vegetables were aired. Well vegetables, everybody knows. That certain 'Michael.' Everybody knows that certain Leah Cruz. These people are well-known. In rice, we know that certain David Tan Bangayan)," she said in an interview with DZMM.

The senator also mentioned a certain Paul Teves who is allegedly one of the people behind sugar smuggling.

"Ang masaklap niyan, kapag minamanipula nila ang presyo, eh talagang ginagamit pa yung mga kooperatiba, yung magsasaka. Yan yung nangyari sa sibuyas puti. Yan din ang nangyari sa bawang sa amin (The worse part is if they manipulate the prices, they use cooperatives, the farmers. That's what happened in white onions. That's also what happened in our area)" she said.

The lawmaker cited the modus operandi of some traders who buy farmers' produce at a very low price and store it in warehouses to eventually declare a shortage.

"Yung mga coop pa na maliliit lamang, sila yung gagawing importer ng mga cartel at malalaking sindikato. Isipin mo, maliliit na magsasaka pero makakapag-import ng USD5 million worth ng sibuyas, ng gulay. Maniniwala ka ba naman dun? Eh, ginagamit lang sila (The small cooperatives, they are being made importers by cartels and big syndicates. Think of it, small farmers can import USD5 million worth of onions, vegetables. Can you believe that? They are just being used)," Marcos said.

After a Senate inquiry during the 18th Congress, then-Senate President Vicente Sotto III revealed in a committee report 22 names who were allegedly involved in bigtime agriculture products smuggling.

The 63-page committee report named former BoC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Raniel Ramiro, Deputy Commissioner Vener Baquiran, and BOC Directors Jeoffrey Tacio and Yasser Abbas as alleged protectors of smugglers.

The report also named DA-Bureau of Plant Industry director George Culaste; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Eduardo Gongona and Laarni Roxas of the DA-BPI’s plant quarantine services division.

It also listed names of then-Mayor Toby Tiangco; Mayor Jun Diamante, Gerry Teves, David Tan, Manuel Tan, Jude Logarta, Leah Cruz alias Luz Cruz known as the “Onion Queen”, Andy Chua, George Tan, David Bangayan, Paul Teves, Tommy Go, and Wilson Chua. (PNA)