A no-nonsense public servant for more than 40 years, SENATOR PANFILO “PING” MORENA LACSON has been circumspect in matters of public interest and committed against various forms of corruption and wrongdoing, in line with his personal credo: “Ang tama, ipaglaban. Ang mali, labanan. (What is right must be kept right. What is wrong must be set right).”
Lacson first earned a tough, no-nonsense reputation while serving in the Philippine National Police: solving high-profile crimes including kidnap-for-ransom cases in the 1980s and 1990s; and reviving the PNP’s glory days as Chief, PNP from 1999 to 2001.
In the Senate, Lacson is an untiring, tenacious watchdog of the national budget, making sure dubious congressional insertions (a.k.a. pork barrel) and useless appropriations are checked and deleted during plenary debates. More about Senator Lacson here.
Bukod sa baboy at manok, nawawalan ng bilyon-bilyong piso ang gobyerno kada taon dahil sa katiwalian sa pag-import ng isda at iba pang produktong dagat.
Isiniwalat ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson sa pagpapatuloy ng pagdinig ng Senate Committee of the Whole tungkol sa iregularidad sa produktong agrikultura.
Kinwestyon ni Lacson ang malaking pagkakaiba sa datos ng World Trade Organization (WTO) at Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) tungkol sa pag-import ng isda at seafood mula 2015 hanggang 2020.
“The Department of Agriculture will have a lot of explaining to do. The discrepancies may mean there is a lot of misdeclaration, underdeclaration, or outright smuggling. There’s a pattern,” dugtong ng mambabatas.
Aside from pork and poultry, the government is also losing billions of pesos a year due to irregular practices involving the importation of fish and seafood products, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson bared Thursday.
Lacson questioned the huge discrepancies between the records of the World Trade Organization and the Philippine Statistics Authority in terms of fish and seafood importation from the top 15 exporting countries from 2015 to 2020.
“The Department of Agriculture will have a lot of explaining to do. The discrepancies may mean there is a lot of misdeclaration, underdeclaration, or outright smuggling. There’s a pattern,” he said at the second hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on irregularities involving agricultural products.
“It’s not just in pork and poultry products where there are irregularities. It cuts across practically all FSRAs (food safety regulatory agencies). What action has the DA taken? The bottom line is that we have lost so much revenues – some P1.058 billion yearly from 2015 to 2020 in foregone revenues on imported fish and seafoods alone on account of all these discrepancies,” he added.
Well and good if it actually happens. It would mean that the President is not impervious to valid criticisms against an ill-advised course of action that will bring more harm than good on all practical aspects involving the hog industry.
I hope the President considers the plight of the dying industry affecting 80,000 backyard hog raisers along with hundreds of thousands of farmhands and their families – and the foregone revenues the government will deal with, especially at this time of the pandemic.
That being said, Department of Agriculture officials claimed during the Senate hearing to have based their action on their own analysis, which could be self-serving and designed to suit their purpose.
Thus – with an average yearly surplus of 400 million kilos from local hog production for the three-year period 2018-2020, it defies logic why they still allowed the importation of almost 200 million kilos year-on-year for the same period.
Mr. Senate President and Chairman of the Committee of the Whole,
I could not think of an act more cruel than beating to death somebody who is already dying. Such is the fate of our 80,000 local backyard hog raisers – sa kamay ng dapat sana ay ang kanilang pangunahing tagakalinga, ang Kagawaran ng Agrikultura, after their plea was ignored with the signing of Executive Order No. 128 series of 2021 last Wednesday.
While the intention may be good, let us first take a serious look at the situation. Since the Department of Budget and Management already said that the government coffers have dried up, hence funds are no longer available, the bigger question remains: Can we still afford more borrowings intended for dole-outs instead of for other productive purposes to boost our economy? The last thing we need is ending up in a ‘Sisyphean’ situation.
Our best option is to have a sense of urgency and allow the private sector more participation with better flexibility in the vaccination program – true to the government’s ‘whole-of-nation approach’ theme, which is turning out to be mere platitude and lip service.
Then, if we really need to pass Bayanihan 3, the national and local governments must first get their act together to update the data on the intended recipients of the social amelioration program since what the Department of Social Welfare and Development is using is a five-year-old list that is already out of date – hence real-time needs and priorities are not being properly addressed, not to mention the corruption involved in the distribution of such dole-outs because of such a defective list.
Diplomatic protests may not be too helpful anymore as China continues to ignore the same. Further, while it is a standard document used to call the attention of the other party, China’s consistent attitude of taking for granted such action taken by the DFA reduces it to a mere point of information.
That said, perhaps China would not be so dismissive if we and our allies, both in the Asia-Pacific and the west, show we can band together to maintain a balance of power in the region, including the West Philippine Sea.
Filipinos should stand foursquare behind DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for making known his strong position in defending our country’s sovereign rights over the Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef) – and before that, the Mischief Reef, occupied by the Chinese during the period 1994-1995 and the Scarborough Shoal, which China cordoned off in 2012. All these have legal basis under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the existing arbitral ruling in our favor.
A sad reality is that while the ruling is permanent, it is unenforceable. The situation is made worse when our country’s leaders and foreign policy decision makers resort to acquiesce bordering on implied derogation of our sovereignty.
Even amid this pandemic, such “health crisis opportunism” being applied by China does not speak well of the assumed trust and goodwill between the two Asian allies. That said, our country is losing tens of billions of pesos a year in “stolen” aquatic resources, not to mention the wanton destruction of corals within our Exclusive Economic Zone that threatens our food security.
The fact that we are a militarily weak country that cannot match China’s military power should compel us to resort to establishing stronger alliances not only with other Asia-Pacific neighbors like Australia and Japan and the other ASEAN countries, but our long-standing western allies like the US and Europe.
Only through a clear message that the presence of “balance of power” in the West Philippine Sea can help us in this regard.
The next challenge, however, is compliance to his instructions by the concerned health authorities – including how long it will take to approve the applications to import their vaccines under the existing tripartite agreement. Then there’s the availability of vaccines in the world market, not to mention the time lag between booking and actual deliveries of the vaccines.
Had the order been issued at the time when the private sector was clamoring to be allowed to procure their own vaccines, subject to the usual existing regulations and protocols issued by the World Health Organization, by now the country would likely have been vaccinating en masse and nearing herd immunity, thanks in large part to the private sector.
Pinakilos na ni Senador Panfilo Lacson ang kanyang mga tauhan para malantad ang mga nasa likod ng pagkalat ng litratong nagtataglay ng mensaheng pomoporma at namumulitika siya para sa 2022 elections.
Ang litratong tinutukoy ni Lacson ay nakasalut ang pangalang “PING” na nilagyan ng kahulugan na “Pangulong Iaayos Na muli ang Gobyerno.”
“It is a dirty hatchet job, to put it mildly – being circulated at a time when some propagandists, with the aid of troll farms, are accusing me of politicking by criticizing the handling of the pandemic,” seryosong pahayag ng senador.
“Now comes this photo to make it appear that I’m really politicizing the situation – and nothing can be further from the truth,” dagdag ng mambabatas.