Biazon wants seized goods given to flood victimsBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon has ordered an inventory of seized and abandoned smuggled goods in all ports nationwide for possible distribution to flood victims in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Biazon on Sunday said efforts were being made to make seized items, including used clothing, construction materials and smuggled rice, available to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which handles the distribution of foodstuff and other items to flood victims.
“I have given instructions to all Bureau of Customs officials handling the processing and release of donations for flood victims to expedite their release at the soonest possible time,” Biazon said in a phone interview. “Any incident of deliberate holding of donations by any official shall be dealt with accordingly.”
Biazon clarified that the seized items for donation did not include the 420,000 50-kilogram bags of smuggled Indian rice, valued at an estimated P450 million, and Vietnamese rice worth P42 million seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the past two weeks.
“Both shipments are still undergoing BOC proceedings following appeals filed by their importers [for the lifting of the rice imports’ seizure and detention orders]. Also, the Senate has specifically ordered the bureau not to touch the seized rice until it has completed its hearing [on the smuggling issue],” Biazon told the Inquirer.
Biazon earlier said there was an apparent “grand design” to ship the 420,00 bags of imported Indian rice illegally into the country since the importation was undocumented and its consignee, Metro Eastern Trading Corp., tried to make it appear that it was a transshipment bound for Indonesia.
The firm failed to produce the required documents for rice importation, such as allocation and import permits from the National Food Authority.