BOC chief clears men of blame over 982 bags of rotten rice in Tacloban
TACLOBAN CITY-Customs chief Isidro Lapeña absolved his men of any liability over the 982 bags of rice left rotten inside a warehouse here.
He said his men followed the process which was “quite long.”
Lapeña was in the city on Wednesday to inspect the rice stored in a warehouse of the National Food Authority (NFA) at Tacloban’s port area.
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) office in Tacloban made the right decision to dump the rice since these had been declared unfit for animal and human consumption, he said.
“There was a process. It was examined and it turned out it was no longer fit for human consumption, even for animal use. So, they came up with the recommendation to extract the bags of rice through burying them,” Lapeña said.
He explained that items seized by the BoC were either auctioned out or donated.
The rice of commercial variety were seized by the BoC in July, 2013 after its consignee, the A1 Milling Corp, failed to produce a shipping document from the NFA to prove the legitimacy of its importation.
These were stored in an NFA warehouse that was damaged by the storm surge generated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on Nov. 8, 2013.
As a result, the rice were damaged by the storm.
On Jan. 28, 2014, the consignee informed the BoC that it was abandoning its claim on the shipment since the rice had already been damaged.
To dispose the items, the BoC-Tacloban conducted an auction on April 3 and 4, 2014 but there was no taker.
Jose Naig, BoC acting chief for Eastern Visayas, decided to dump the rice after receiving a certification signed by both the City Health Office and the NFA Eastern Visayas office on March 16, 2017 that the items were no longer fit for human consumption or even for animal use.
Lapeña said a similar case would not happen under his watch since he has shortened the transaction time at the BoC to only five days.
“We see to it that it will be done within a reasonable time,” Lapeña said.
The BoC was awaiting authority from the Tacloban City government where to bury the 982 bags.
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