DA to ban cooperatives from importing rice
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to ban farmers’ cooperatives from importing rice in order to avoid being abused by rice traders wanting to circumvent the rice tariffication law.
Secretary William Dar made this commitment during a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture Friday, as committee chair, Senator Cynthia Villar noted that cooperatives are being used by unscrupulous rice importers to avoid compliance to tariff laws.
“I will issue the order not to allow now coops and associations to import [rice],” Dar said during the hearing.
Villar said those behind cooperatives are the ones being made liable for violations of some rice traders who try to skirt tariff regulations.
“They said if you use the coop, you are not paying tariff, ‘di ba? Kaya ginagamit na ng rice importers ‘yung coop. Noong araw ginagamit na ‘yang coop na ‘yan, tapos ang ini-import nila is less than what was indicated. They ask for import permit na maliit tapos nag-i-import sila ng more,” she said.
(They said that if you use the coop, you are not paying tariff, right? That’s why the rice importers use the coop. Before, they also use cooperatives and import less than what was indicated. They ask for import permit for a less volume of rice but import more.)
“Nahuli ngayon kasi smuggling ‘yun, so since the import permit ay binigay sa coop, ang nakulong ay ‘yung mga coop. Kaya dapat takutin ‘yang mag coop na ‘yan, and in fact the Bureau of Customs is warning na kapag merong nahuli dyan, ‘yung coop ang makukulong,” she added.
(They were flagged because it’s considered smuggling, so since the import permit was given to the coop, the ones jailed were members of the coop. That’s why cooperatives should be urged to take caution, and in fact the BOC is warning that members of cooperatives will be the ones made liable once the act of smuggling is noticed by authorities.)
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan suggested that cooperatives instead go directly with local government units if they plan to sell rice.
“Part of the reason na ginagawa ‘yan ng coops ay dahil sila ay na-a-anggihan, meron silang kinikita,” he said.
(Part of the reason why coops do that is because they also earn something from it.)
“Doon (LGUs) po natin dalhin ang mga cooperatives. Wag na sila mag-import. Magbenta na sila direkta sa LGUs at ‘yung LGUs bumili na rin direkta sa kanila,” he added.
(Let is bring the transaction of coops to LGUs. They should not import. They should just sell to LGUs and LGUs should buy directly from them.)
Dar, in response, said the DA will heed the senator’s suggestion.