Romualdez, solon back distribution of smuggled rice to public
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and another lawmaker have supported the administration’s move to distribute smuggled rice to the public, saying it is a solid action against smugglers who try to manipulate prices.
In a statement on Wednesday, Romualdez said that they stand with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s decision, highlighting the administration’s commitment to addressing rising rice prices and curbing smuggling and hoarding.
Romualdez said this after the President, during his trip to Zamboanga City, oversaw the provision of the smuggled rice to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.
“This significant gesture demonstrates more than just an act of generosity; it underscores the administration’s commitment to addressing the needs of our people, especially during challenging times,” Romualdez said.
“Furthermore, this initiative solidifies our collective stance against the activities of hoarders, smugglers, and those who unscrupulously manipulate the prices of rice and other essential commodities,” he added.
Bicol Saro party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan, on the other hand, said that Marcos, with his decision to distribute the smuggled rice, taught smugglers a “bitter lesson.”
“The President has given smugglers and hoarders a bitter, expensive lesson where it would hurt them the most — their pockets. Their seized rice stocks mean their investments can never be recovered. Ang smuggled rice na naisaing na, hindi na kayang bawiin (Smuggled rice which is cooked can never be taken back),” Yamsuan said in a separate statement.
“Lugi ang smugglers, pero panalo naman ang magsasaka at mahihirap nating mga kababayan (Smugglers lose money, but our farmers and poor fellow Filipinos win),” he added. “By his single strong-minded act, the President has helped farmers and poor families and punished those that have made life difficult for them.”
According to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Zamboanga District Collector Arthur Sevilla, Jr., they seized 42,180 bags of smuggled rice last May in Barangay San Jose Gusu. The value of the smuggled rice is believed to be around P44 million.
Sevilla said the distribution is above board since the activity was properly documented — as they obtained a deed of donation, while the rice passed quality control, too.
Romualdez congratulated the BOC but urged them to file charges against the smugglers instead of merely confiscating the smuggled items.
“I congratulate the Bureau of Customs and other concerned agencies for a job well done. But they should not stop at confiscating rice and other products smuggled into the country. These offices should file charges against the smugglers immediately,” Romualdez said.
“Our mission goes beyond legislation; it encompasses the very essence of public service — to safeguard and enhance the lives of our constituents. We are fully committed to working closely with the Executive branch and other relevant agencies in fortifying measures against these illicit activities,” he added.
After joining the BOC in a series of raids that showed sacks of rice sitting at different warehouses, Romualdez suggested that smuggled and hoarded rice should be sold at a low price.
He also warned smugglers that the BOC could just seize the rice and distribute it as assistance, aside from having the government take over importation.