Customs files smuggling raps vs Batangas rice importer
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed on Thursday smuggling charges against a Batangas-based trader who allegedly imported illegally from Vietnam more than 12.8 million kilograms of rice worth P513 million in 2013.
The respondents to the cases filed by the BOC before the Department of Justice were Bold Bidder Marketing and General Merchandise representative Ivy M. Souza, as well as the company’s customs brokers Denise Kathryn V. Rosaroso, Elbert V. Lusterio, Francis Rudolfh V. Forneste and John Kevin Cisneros.
According to the BOC, San Juan, Batangas-based Bold Bidder brought in rice shipments that lacked import permits from the National Food Authority (NFA) between August and November in 2013.
Through the Port of Manila, the company imported in October 2013 more than 4.9 million kilograms of rice worth P197 million, almost 3.7 million kilograms worth P146 million via the Manila International Container Port in November and about 4.3 million kilos worth P170 million through the Port of Cebu from August to September last year.
“None of these shipments were covered by any import permit from the NFA nor were any documents filed before the agency,” the BOC said.
These shipments have a total dutiable value of more than P186 million.
Upon verification, the BOC found out with the NFA that the company only secured two import permits last year for a total maximum allowable import volume of just 600 metric tons or 600,000 kilograms of rice.
“The people behind Bold Bidder have filed numerous cases questioning the authority of the Bureau of Customs to seize its rice shipments, even cases against us at the Ombudsman. They have danced around our legal system in desperate attempts to try to get their cache of smuggled rice out. But we have to reiterate that the law is very clear—no one can bring in rice without an NFA import permit,” Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla said.
“The rationale behind securing import permits is not merely based on compliance. It is also meant to ensure that the over 2.4 million farming households and our agricultural industry are not adversely affected by a sudden surge in imported rice,” Sevilla said.
The government regulates rice importation through quotas in order to protect local farmers.
Under Presidential Decree No. 4, only the NFA is mandated to import rice. Private entities who wish to do so must first secure a permit from the agency.
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