SBMA replaces 2 officials linked to smuggling tryPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair Roberto Garcia has replaced the two officials linked to the rice smuggling attempt here while the investigation into their possible collusion in facilitating the shipment of 420,000 bags of Indian rice in this port is ongoing.
Ruel John Kabigting, head of the SBMA’s planning and development office, will replace Stefani Saño, senior deputy administrator for business development, while Marcelino Sanqui, deputy administrator for public works and technical services, will take over the position left by Redentor Tuazon, senior deputy administrator for seaport operations.
Saño and Tuazon have gone on leave while the SBMA conducts the investigation.
Garcia said the agency’s investigating committee, headed by SBMA director Philip Camara, has yet to decide if it will seek the National Bureau of Investigation’s help in the probe that will last for about two weeks.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced the seizure of the rice stocks on July 31 from a warehouse operated by Metro Eastern Trading Corp., a port locator. The agency took the SBMA to task for the alleged attempt to smuggle the rice shipment into the country.
Amira C Foods, DDMC, owns the seized Indian rice, which was originally intended for Indonesia. Through its lawyers, Amira said it did not misdeclare or conceal the rice shipment upon its arrival here and the rice stocks, worth at least P450 million, were not intended for unloading in the country.
It said MV Vinalines Mighty, the vessel carrying the shipment, had sailed to Subic Bay with the approval of the SBMA.
Tuazon, in a press conference on Friday, said he was a victim of misrepresentation by Metro Eastern and Amira.
When asked, Tuazon said he was aware of the National Food Authority (NFA) regulation prohibiting the shipment of rice into the country without an importation permit.
But he said they relied on the promise of the shipper that the NFA permit was being processed. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon