Customs seizes P125-M worth of smuggled rice

MANILA — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday seized 100 20-footer container loaded with 2,500 tons of white rice estimated to be worth PHP125 million at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

Commissioner Isidro Lapeña led the inspection of the shipment that contains around 50,000 bags of rice, from Thailand.

It was consigned to Sta. Rosa Farm Products Corp. with office address at 2025 Ipil St., Sta. Cruz, Manila.

On June 14, the flagged shipments arrived in the country without the necessary import permit from the National Food Authority (NFA). It was processed by customs broker Diosdado Santiago of Intramuros, Manila.

Lawyer Vener Baquiran, MICP District Collector on July 27, issued a warrant of seizure and detention against the cargo for violation of Section 117, in relation to NFA Letter Circular No. AO-2013-04-002, Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and Republic Act 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.

The said NFA circular provides that rice importers are required to secure an NFA permit before the shipment arrives in the country.

“Once the NFA is done with the examination and has issued report and recommendation as to the price, we will auction the goods immediately because of its perishable nature. The proceeds of the auction will be held in escrow pending final resolution of seizure and abandonment proceedings,” Lapeña said.

The NFA test result will determine whether the rice is fit for human consumption.

He added that the apprehension was the result of the directive of the President and the Secretary of Finance to heighten the bureau’s drive against smuggling of rice in the country.

On the other hand, the BOC chief reported that the consignee has a pending case before the Department of Justice for the unlawful importation of 200 containers of rice without the required import permit.

Lapeña noted that the 200 containers have already been auctioned.

“The 200 container vans of rice before have been auctioned already. A case has also been filed for violation of laws,” he said in a press briefing after the inspection of the seized items. BOC PR