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NBI raids Iloilo warehouse, seizes 1,000 bags of rice

/ 12:04 AM August 01, 2014

ILOILO CITY—National Bureau of Investigation operatives raided a privately owned warehouse in Iloilo province early Thursday and confiscated more than 1,000 sacks of suspected National Food Authority (NFA) rice being repacked for commercial sale.

The raid was the first in Western Visayas after President Aquino ordered a crackdown on rice hoarders and after rice prices soared amid a suspected artificial shortage.

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The NBI operatives and NFA personnel raided the warehouse in Barangay (village) Napnod in Leganes town, 11 kilometers north of Iloilo City, around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Lawyer Jeremiah Sargado, supervising agent of the NBI Western Visayas office, said the agents caught 10 workers repacking NFA rice.

The operatives recovered 21 bags of NFA rice, including five on  a truck and 16 others under the vehicle.

Inside the warehouse, the operatives recovered 1,045 unlabeled bags of rice  believed to be repacked NFA rice. Also found were empty, white- and orange-colored rice bags without markings or labels.

“We believe the NFA rice were being repacked to be sold commercially,” Sargado told the Inquirer.

Republic Act No. 7581 (Price Act) prohibits the repacking and hoarding of NFA rice.

Violators face imprisonment of five to 15 years and could lose their accreditation as NFA rice retailers. They also face blacklisting.

NFA personnel took samples of rice in the unlabeled bags to confirm if these were NFA rice. NBI agents also placed the warehouse under guard to ensure that the rice stock would not be taken out.

The warehouse is registered to Dennis Devicente who was not in the area during the raid, according to Sargado.

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He said the workers admitted that they were hired to repack the rice.

He added that the warehouse was among those placed under surveillance after the President ordered law enforcement agencies to apprehend and prosecute rice hoarders and those illegally repacking and selling NFA rice.

The NBI also received tips that illegal repacking was being done in the warehouse.

“This is a continuing operation and we will not stop as long as these illegal activities are ongoing here,” Sargado said.

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