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Senator Bong Go on Friday called on authorities to clamp down on rice smuggling and exploitative practices of some rice traders who take advantage of many vulnerable Filipino rice farmers.

“Dagdag na problema ng ating mga magsasaka ang pananamantala at panloloko ng ilang malalaking rice traders at rice importers,” the former aide of President Rodrigo Duterte said in a radio interview.

Go was referring to a cooperative in Tarlac allegedly involved in rice smuggling. He earlier asked the National Bureau of Investigation to probe these reports and hold those involved accountable.

“Mas paigtingin pa natin ang pangangasiwa ng mga kooperatiba upang hindi na magkaroon ng ganitong klase ng katiwalian. Huwag po nating hayaang tuluyang maghirap ang ating magsasaka. Tuluy-tuloy po ang kampanya natin laban sa korapsyon at kasama dyan ang smuggling,” he added.

Go recounted a Senate hearing back in 2013 when Duterte, then Davao City mayor, was invited as a resource person to talk about the issue of rice smuggling.

“Naalala n’yo po noong 2013, ipinatawag ng Senado si Mayor Duterte as one of the resource persons sa pagdinig sa Senado hinggil sa rice smuggling,” Go said.

“Sinamahan ko po siya doon, ako ‘yung nasa likod niya at doon natin nakita, sabi ni Pangulo ay talagang tutuluyan n’ya itong mga rice smugglers,” he added.

Go also asked the government to prioritize the welfare of small farmers, adding that his office is always open to listen to them.

“Unahin po natin ang kapakanan nila, bigyan po natin sila ng mga dapat na kailangan nila para makabangon po muli ang ating magsasaka. Para naman sa mga magsasaka natin, bukas po ang opisina ko kung may mga hinaing kayo o mga gusto isumbong,” he said.

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