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Smugglers on the loose

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(BY: REV. BERLIE G. YAP) The public was surprised recently when law enforcers busted hundreds of sacks of smuggled rice from Malaysia, and authorities themselves admitted the present un-surmountable problem of rice smuggling in Zamboanga which is gradually killing the local rice farmers as prices to these smuggled rice are way cheaper, even, than the subsidized market-sold NFA rice.

Indeed, the simple formula of economics on the law of supply and demand works. Commercial rice in stalls today is sold at least by P50/kl. So, any average mother would rather go to the cheaper ones but with similar qualities. This is how the smuggled rice did start to come into the picture—cheaper and quality.

Business of goods must always be legitimate because commerce is the life blood of our economy. Our State needs businessmen, industrialists, merchants, middlemen and etc. In the intricate strands of our society, business people are crucially important. But the problem starts when the same caste opts for the illegal way to profit more. Easy money allures and it allures well.

The ones allured increased, indeed, while more money flood into City’s circulation and seemed to have contributed a good economy locally. But the reality is quite the opposite because the government is the very instrumentality which is directly affected. The deprivation of the supposed taxes is the deficiency that both the Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police (PNP) now must seriously commit to bust more and put this said smuggling to stop.

Will it be possible? Presumably yes, if our authorities will just have the will and determination to do them. Another problem that does usually pop in the situation is corruption money. Laws and policies are withheld, or cannot be put into action at all because corruption money has already paralyzed public officers who sold their convictions and morality, only to a handful of millions against the billions of taxes that were to be paid, to the government.

Smuggling has already been a problem in Zamboanga City, not just now, but for decades already. Probably, even before you and I were born. I needless to convince anyone that there how many big houses in Zamboanga, expensively displayed, are owned or built by smugglers who made good money in the process!

In our streets, we even can buy smuggled cigarettes, candies, towels, and many other goods freely. Well, the presumption that these same items are, actually, barter goods which are justified by certain domestic laws, cloaking them to be legal. But as to everyone’s knowledge, barter goods are to be engaged only to some limited volume, but why the endless flood of goods?

Well, such simple arguments surely do cast doubts, even to average citizens. But again, anyone can be presumed innocent unless allegations of irregularities can otherwise be proven. Tolerance is one of the weapons which the good and slippery smugglers hold to defend themselves always. Isn’t it?

These smuggled goods are analogous to the recent advent of rice smuggling in Zamboanga. By the way, is it really only recently? The media for so long has brought this to open for dozens of times, now and then, but still to no avail, proliferation continues and even escalated worse to some degree.

Another twist cropped also that rice smugglers are now using media personalities’ names, as a dummy, to instead replace real names for the safety of their protectors. These protectors are government officials, politicians and high ranking uniformed officers, allegedly, who are the ones giving them their needed immunity.

In his program (Combersa! Quosa Ba?), host Jayvee Faustino, Zamboanga Today Editor-in-Chief (EIC), yesterday teased that his name might also be included in the list for a hoax. Amazingly, smugglers today have already mutated to be very witty.

Allegedly, a blue book has recorded four names as involved in the protection of the rice smuggling. Until the authorities will name them soon, mere speculations will rather continue to prevail as to whose policemen’ names are those.

It will be a “wait and see” thing and maybe the probe can anyway disclose them soon, hopefully. Hence, suffice to say, the public again will have to wait in the usual limbo, for the moment, in the name of justice.

Barangay eMedia wishes to address this to our honest policemen and to the media folks, nothing to be feeling concerned of. The guilty ones shall be, eventually, exposed.

Money ain’t evil per se. It becomes one when a person obtains it by evil. Just a little reminder, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

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