Rice smuggling filed vs multi-purpose coop

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Thursday, February 6, 2014


MANILA -- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed smuggling charges on Thursday against officials of the San Carlos Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Sacamuco) for the unlawful importation of over 28,000 sacks of rice with an estimated market value of P34 million.

Charged were Sacamuco officials led by its chairperson, Marivic Canillo; board members Felipe Gamuyao, Felipe Paas, Jr., Aurelio Tome, Jr. and Percy Reyes; Doris Ortega, manager and customs broker Marvin Cortez before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

They are facing cases for violating Section 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.

"As we vigorously challenge the court cases being filed against us by rice traders, we are committed to prosecuting traders who continue to import rice illegally. These practices are not only unfair to legitimate rice dealers and sellers, but also cause harm to our farmers," said Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla.

Sacamuco, which is based in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, is one of entities previously identified as consignees used to bring in rice into the Philippines without import permits.

Investigation by the bureau showed that the group misdeclared both the actual quantity of rice it imported and where these came from.

In its import entries, Sacamuco declared that the rice, which arrived in a total of 55 20-foot container vans from August 27 to September 15, 2013, came from Thailand and that each container had only 380 sacks of rice.

However, further examination showed that the rice imports actually came from Vietnam and that each container had as much as 520 sacks of rice.

Sevilla hoped that the filing of the charges would serve as a warning to those who are involved in these illegal activities.

A total of 22 rice-related smuggling cases were filed by the BOC last year. It seized P1.2-billion worth of smuggled rice.

The BOC also cancelled the accreditation of 14 rice importers for not having enough resources to warrant the importation of large volume of rice.

These are Conquistar Marketing, Dream the Dream Marketing, Happy Morning Enterprises, Kakampi Multi-Purpose Cooperative, KapatiranTakusa Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Malipampang Concerned Citizens Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Pinambaran Farmers Producers Cooperative, Samahang Magsasakang Kapampangan at Katagalugan Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Thunder Glutch Marketing, Ugnayang Magbubukid ng San Isidro, Inc., Vita Rose Marketing, Dragon Clash Enterprises, Masagana Import Export and King Casey Trading.

However, the BOC has yet to file charges against alleged rice smuggling king Davidson Bangayan since he was not named as consignee of the contraband.

Sevilla said they are still validating reports that the businessman financed the cooperatives engaged in rice smuggling. If true, the BOC chief said Bangayan is liable under the customs law. (FP/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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