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BOC won’t let seized rice, goods go to waste

/ 01:58 AM November 11, 2013

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will release millions of pesos worth of smuggled rice and other food items, as well as construction materials and used clothing it has seized, to help the government relief effort for the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said on Sunday.

Biazon told the Inquirer the items were being prepared in various ports around the country to be turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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Biazon did not identify the ports but said he would “issue instructions to others, as well, to do the same thing.”

He said, the BOC “will make an inventory of the confiscated and abandoned goods in the ports to determine the availability of items we can donate under existing rules and regulations.”

He said it was not the first time the BOC was donating “hot rice” and other smuggled items to disaster relief.

Last March, the Department of Finance-attached agency turned over to the DSWD some 94,000 50-kilogram bags of illegally imported Vietnamese rice it had confiscated last year at the Subic Freeport in Zambales.

The “hot rice,” estimated to be worth over P110 million, was used by the DSWD in its humanitarian programs following natural disasters.

In August 2012, Biazon ordered an inventory of confiscated smuggled goods at all ports nationwide for distribution to flood victims in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The seized items for donation, however, did not include the 420,000 bags of Indian white rice, estimated at P480 million, and Vietnamese rice worth P42 million it had seized at Subic Freeport and the Legazpi City port, respectively.

In September, the Bureau of Customs said it planned to turn over P40 million worth of smuggled ukay ukay (used clothing) to the DSWD.

Biazon said then that “it’s the best option because used clothing cannot be disposed of by auction since they are prohibited goods.”

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“We will offer the seized ukay-ukay to the DSWD for their use in calamity operations.

In January 2012, P20-million worth of illegally imported used clothing went to northern Mindanao folk who were displaced by floods spawned by Tropical Storm “Sendong.”

Biazon warned that “any incident of deliberate holding of donations by any customs official shall be dealt with accordingly.”

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, donation, Philippines, seized rice, Ukay-ukay, victims of supertyphoon Yoland
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