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JV Ejercito opposes importation, smuggling

March 13, 2022

Former senator JV Ejercito reiterated his support for the entire agriculture sector, and also vowed to oversee the full implementation of two landmarks legislations which he principally authored – the Universal Healthcare Law (UHL) and the creation of the Department of Human Settlements (Housing).

Former Senator JV Ejercito during Friday’s interview in Bacolod City.* (Butch Bacaoco photo)

“I have always been a supporter of the entire agriculture sector, and not only the sugar industry. I authored the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law of 2015, which penalizes those involved in rampant agricultural smuggling, which is now classified as economic sabotage and punishable with a jail term of 17 years and fine of millions of pesos,” said Ejercito, who aims to return to the Senate, in an interview in Bacolod City last Friday.

“The problem is, since the passage of the law, no large-scale smugglers have been apprehended and prosecuted because some government agencies indiscriminately give import permits in the guise of liberalization,” he lamented.

Ejercito stated that some people are earning huge money from importation, which explains why they allow relentless importation of garlic, rice, sugar, fish, and other agricultural products.

He vowed that, when he gets back in the Senate, he will push for the strict enforcement of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law, and work for strict controls on the granting of import permits, because it makes a mockery of the law by legalizing smuggling.

“I am really against smuggling and importation of agricultural products. We should strengthen our agriculture sector. We should tighten the screws on importation. If government wants to import, it should first buy all the products of our farmers. That’s the way to help our farmers and our economy,” Ejercito pointed out.

“I am against importation and I hate smuggling because it kills the livelihood of our poor farmers. They are already poor and yet they are deprived by government of their rightful market. Rampant importation and smuggling deprive our own farmers and fishermen of their livelihood,” he further stressed.

Other excerpts from the interview of the former senator are:

Universal Healthcare Law

The Universal Healthcare Law is being implemented already, but the wisdom of the principal sponsor is very much needed, especially in this early stage of its implementation.

This pandemic exposed and exacerbated the weaknesses of our healthcare system. We have seen its weaknesses… problems with inadequate health facilities, with healthcare workers and with PhilHealth. If the UHL is fully implemented in its true spirit, these problems will be lessened and duly taken care of.

When the pandemic struck, our healthcare system was overwhelmed. But it was not only the Philippines which struggled; it was the whole world which struggled because of the pandemic. At any rate, the Universal Healthcare Law was able to help a lot of people during the pandemic, especially those who were infected by Covid. Their medical bills were covered by PhilHealth because of the Universal Healthcare Law.

The law is still in the infancy of its implementation. Its oversight function does not operate yet. We will ensure that the oversight function of the UHL will become operational. I intend to go back to the Senate so that we can ensure that the benefits of the UHL is felt by all Filipinos.

Anomalies at PhilHealth

PhilHealth has to be reformed, because it is saddled by corruption problems and anomalies in the past few decades. But is not solely PhilHealth which should be blamed, because what happened with PhilHealth is a collusion among some hospitals, unscrupulous doctors and PhilHealth employees.

Examples are the scams where patients who don’t need an eye operation are made to undergo an operation, and the misdiagnosis of simple bronchitis into pneumonia and even severe pneumonia to collect more benefits from PhilHealth.

PhilHealth has to be overhauled, but those who are involved in this collusion have to be prosecuted and jailed to ensure that this will not happen again, so that PhilHealth funds can benefit the intended beneficiaries, such as the poor, the indigents and the senior citizens.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of his candidacy

It’s a big boost, because the President enjoys the trust of majority of the Filipino people. His endorsement is an honor for me. We all know that the President is very particular about candidates he endorses. He hates candidates who have adverse issues, especially corruption. His endorsement means I passed the President’s criteria.

In my 18 years as a public servant, I don’t have issues involving corruption, scandal or any scam. In my 18 years as a public servant, I have kept my name clean, and I ensure that I give a good performance from the time I was mayor, congressman and senator.

I have passed two landmark laws – the Universal Healthcare Law and the creation of the Department of Human Settlements (Housing). I maintained my good performance and clean track record.

I thank the President for his trust and confidence. I cried when I learned of his endorsement, because I did not expect it. When I saw and heard his kind words and strong endorsement, I was overwhelmed and I was brought to tears.

I need to win to continue my mission and vision. I need to finish and oversee the full implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law and the Department of Housing, among others.* (Butch Bacaoco)

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