Without kotong or once it is eradicated, Partido Reporma standard bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson said, fruit and vegetable prices sure to go down.

“We always say: ‘Fix the government, fix the lives of every Filipino.’ Because if people in the government are corrupt, who suffers? The citizenry,” said Lacson.

He noted the rising prices of goods, especially as Christmas nears and Filipinos scramble to put food on their tables for noche buena and media noche (Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve feasts).

In his dialogue with various leaders and sector representatives in the capital of Negros Oriental, the former Philippine National Police chief said he had proven during his stint at the PNP that removing kotong and sparing motorists the pain of paying bribes to rogue law enforcers is possible.

According to Lacson said, these are the ones who man “checkpoints” and squeeze payments from fruit and vegetable traders in return for passage to local markets. The traders, in turn, will pass on these expenses to consumers.

“‘I removed all the checkpoints on the roads. I removed them all because of kotong,said Lacson.

He cited vegetable and flower vendors from La Trinidad province going to Divisoria in Manilawho revealed they budgeted PHP1,000 every trip to pay off corrupt cops.

Jeepney drivers and truckers of these traders, meanwhile, expected to lose as much as PHP300 a trip, Lacson added.

Apart from corruption, illegal agricultural smuggling was also making life more difficult for local farmers and producers, which he and running mate Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III are currently investigating in the Senate, Lacson said.

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