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P300M worth of smuggled rice up for auction

MANILA, Philippines–Two days after auctioning off P33 million worth of garlic smuggled from China, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) expects to raise some P300 million in additional government revenue with Friday’s scheduled public auction of some 200,000 50-kilogram bags of illegally imported rice at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

In an advisory posted on its website, the Department of Finance-attached agency said the “public auction through sealed bidding” would be conducted at 2:30 p.m. at the office of MICP District Collector Elmir de la Cruz.

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The following shipments of white rice, also from China and seized late last year by the bureau, will be put up for public auction:

• A total of 285 20-foot containers with nearly 150,000 50-kg bags of rice confiscated from Bold Bidder Marketing, with a floor price of more than P225.68 million;

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• Seventy 20-ft containers with some 36,400 50-kg bags of rice confiscated from Jade Brothers Farm and Livestock Inc. and with a floor price of P47.02 million; and

• Thirty 20-ft containers with 15,598 bags of rice seized from San Carlos Multipurpose Cooperative and with a floor price of P26.99 million.

During ‘clustering’

According to De la Cruz, the highest bidder will be declared the winner “except when clustering occurs.”

He explained this to be “when the difference between the highest and second highest bids is within 10 percent. In such cases, an open bidding shall be conducted among the bidders of the particular sale lot who are present with the highest bid serving as the new floor price.”

The BOC earlier filed smuggling charges before the Department of Justice against the three trading firms allegedly behind the illegal rice importation.

Last Tuesday, the bureau auctioned off some 676,350 kg of smuggled garlic from China, which were estimated to be worth at least P33 million.

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The garlic shipments were confiscated by the agency in June as retail prices for the commodity soared to as high as P300 to P400 a kilo from the usual P60 to P90. In the first quarter of the year alone, the government monitored that garlic prices had increased by up to 213 percent.

Malacañang authorized

According to the Customs public information and assistance division (PIAD), Malacañang had authorized the disposal of the smuggled garlic through public auction.

It quoted the Palace as having said that if confiscated garlic shipments are cleared of phytosanitary threats, they could be sold in the local market to ease prices of the agricultural product.

Earlier, a PIAD official said that instead of auctioning off smuggled garlic to raise additional revenue for the government, the BOC would destroy the shipments confiscated by the agency.

When he was still customs commissioner, Ruffy Biazon had said that the bureau would just let illegally imported garlic and other agricultural products rot.

“Although they can be auctioned off to raise additional government revenue, seized agricultural products needed clearance from the Department of Agriculture to be disposed that way,” he said.

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TAGS: auction, Philippines, rice smuggling, smuggled rice
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