Gov’t to seize Vietnam rice in AlbayBy Mar S. Arguelles
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LEGAZPI CITY—The 94,000 bags of imported rice from Vietnam worth P112.8 million face possible confiscation after the National Food Authority (NFA) in Albay failed to present the necessary import permits on Wednesday to prove that the cargo was not smuggled, said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Bicol.
Lawyer Christopher Inducil, customs hearing officer, said the cargo consignees consisting of five multipurpose cooperatives failed to appear at the hearing to submit their respective import documents.
In an interview, Inducil said the regional customs office has scheduled another hearing on Oct. 17 and 18, which would give the consignees a chance to present the documents of their cargo claim.
However, if again they fail to appear and present the required import documents on the prescribed dates, the customs bureau would be compelled to confiscate the cargo, he said.
Inducil said once the cargo is confiscated, the goods would be owned by the government, which would later auction it off as a revenue-raising measure.
Also present at the hearing was the lawyer of the Ming Truong Shipping lines, the agent of MV Minh Tuan 68, the Vietnamese vessel that brought the cargo into this city on Sept. 2 this year.
Inducil said the lawyer requested that the ship be released and its cargo be held at a government warehouse.
The sea vessel, however, faced restriction after the Philippine Coast Guard in Albay found that it violated eight of 10 provisions of the Philippine Marine Pollution Convention.
The private importation consignees of the cargo were: Ugnayan Magbubukid ng San Isidro Inc. and Karapatan Takusa Multi Purpose Cooperative, both from Candaba, Pampanga, with 21,000 bags each; Malipampang Concerned Citizens Multi Purpose Cooperative of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, with 18,000 bags; Samahan ng Magsasakang Capangpangan at Katagalogan Multi Purpose Cooperative of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, with 18,000 bags, and Sili Multi Purpose Cooperative of Naguilian, La Union, with 16,000 bags.
The customs bureau issued last week a warrant of seizure and detention order (WSD) to the NFA in Albay after it failed to present the import permits that would show that the cargo was not smuggled.
The WSD, which was signed by Legazpi Customs collector lawyer Leovigildo Dayoja, was delivered to NFA-Albay, consignee of the cargo, including the shipping agent.
Dayoja said the customs bureau was compelled to issue the WSD after the NFA failed to meet the deadline to submit the required certificates of import permits.
He said the customs police would secure the imported rice cargo loaded at the Vietnamese vessel.
A check made by the Inquirer Central Luzon desk with officials showed the cooperatives that were listed as importers of the rice are legitimate farmers’ groups.