BOC seizure of rice imported without permits upheld | Inquirer News

BOC seizure of rice imported without permits upheld

/ 05:30 AM September 08, 2014


MANILA, Philippines–The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has scored a victory in its fight against rice smugglers whose imports were seized for lack of the required permits from the National Food Authority (NFA).

In a statement, the BOC said the Batangas Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the petition for declaratory relief filed by Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise, through the firm’s representative Ivy Souza, against the NFA and BOC, for lack of jurisdiction.


In a 20-page resolution, Batangas RTC Branch 5 Judge Eleuterio Larisma Bathan held that the court could not assume jurisdiction over Souza’s petition because she had violated NFA Memorandum Circular No. AO-2K13-03-003, which requires an importer to get an NFA import permit prior to importing rice.

No jurisdiction


The judge said an action for declaratory relief could not prosper if the questioned law, treaty, issuance or rules and regulations had already been violated.

“In other words, a court has no more jurisdiction over an action for declaratory relief if its subject has already been infringed or transgressed before the institution of the action,” said Bathan in his decision.

“This decision reinforces the legal right of the Bureau of Customs not to allow the entry of rice without the required permits from the NFA. From the start, we were committed to challenging judicial rulings that favor illegal rice importations that have disastrous effects on our farmers,” said Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.

The case stemmed from a petition for declaratory relief filed by Souza in November 2013, arguing that the NFA memorandum circular has no more effect because the special treatment of quantitative restrictions accorded the Philippines under the World Trade Organization (WTO) had expired.

However, the WTO Committee on Trade and Goods allowed the Philippines to extend its special treatment for rice through the imposition of quantitative restrictions until 2017.

Critical importance

The WTO also allowed the Philippines to provide minimum market access for rice imports and establish country-specific quotas.


“The WTO has given its imprimatur to the continued imposition of restrictions as regards the importation of rice citing its critical importance to the country. The WTO’s decision has made it very clear that importers should still hold valid import permits from the NFA for rice,” added Sevilla.

Rice imports are regulated by the NFA to ensure fair competition and the viability of the local rice industry.

Alert orders

Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise imported 50 container vans filled with 1,250 metric tons of rice through the Port of Batangas and another 387 container vans with 9,675 metric tons through the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port from October to November 2013.

These shipments were held by the BOC and placed under alert orders because the firm failed to secure import permits, a violation of NFA Memorandum Circular No. AO-2K13-03-003.–Tina G. Santos

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs (BoC), court, imported rice, rice, rice smuggling
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