By Nancy Carvajal
Suspected big time smugglers of agricultural products have seemingly vanished into thin air as the Marcos administration cracks down on the illicit entry of food items.
An intelligence agent told Bilyonaryo that the suspected smugglers can no longer be located.
“The suspected smugglers on our list and those who have pending court cases for agricultural smuggling no longer live in their listed addresses,” the intelligence agent said.
The agent said the task of locating the suspected smugglers has become more difficult as fewer witnesses are coming forward to testify.
“Nobody wants to talk anymore. We can’t tell if their silence was a result of threats or bribes,” the agent said.
The intelligence agent said that based on the government’s investigation, no new names have emerged as part of the large scale smuggling of agricultural goods.
“We still have the names of the suspected smugglers which are decades-old. No new players have surfaced so far,” the agent said.
Former Senate President Vicente Sotto III previously shared with authorities the names of alleged big time agricultural smugglers and their supposed protectors in government. Among the names on the list were so-called “Onion Queen” Leah Cruz and Davidson Bangayan, who had been indicted for smuggling rice but was eventually released on bail.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, has vowed to run after agricultural smugglers as prices of basic food items such as onions, sugar and eggs remain elevated.