MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs has seized P10 million worth of smuggled Taiwanese rice, misdeclared as slabs of wall insulators, at the Port of Cebu.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon flew to Cebu City on Wednesday to inspect the 20 container vans filled with the illegally imported rice which he said were consigned to the firms ARFG Trading and Cargo Facilities Services and JBD Trading, both located in Mandaue City.
In a statement, Biazon said, “The consignees of the smuggled rice will not only be blacklisted but they, along with their brokers, will also be charged in court.”
“We will never allow violators of the country’s Customs laws, particularly those involved in the illicit importation of rice, to be left unpunished. We shall, as much as possible, apply the full force of the law if only to protect the interests of local farmers,” he added.
Biazon said his bureau will “strongly pursue our anti-smuggling campaign until it hurts smugglers the most.”
The seizure of the Taiwanese rice shipment “should serve as a warning to traders who may be contemplating illegally importing rice,” he said.
Biazon cited the operatives of the bureau’s Intelligence Division under Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim who were behind the discovery and seizure of the illegally imported rice.
Lim said the shipment arrived at the Cebu port two weeks ago.
The seizure of the illegal shipment was the “result of the Intelligence Group’s enhanced monitoring and intelligence work to curb smuggling and generate more revenues for the government,” Lim noted.
Lim added that the bureau “will never compromise the interest of the government and local farmers to smugglers. We shall enforce the law against the smuggling of rice and other agricultural products.”
Last August, the bureau made its biggest seizure of illegally imported rice with a record haul of P450 million worth of Indian rice at the Subic Freeport in Zambales. Earlier, it confiscated a shipment of smuggled Vietnamese rice valued at P200 million at the same port.
In September, the BOC seized 94,000 bags of rice illegally imported from Vietnam. The shipment was worth over P200 million, according to the agency.
According to Biazon, the bureau has “undertaken aggressive preemptive moves against smugglers, particularly on the illegal importation of rice and other agricultural products.”