P26-million smuggled rice seized-A A +A
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized on Tuesday about P26-million worth of smuggled Indian rice at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
Customs officials said the seizure of some 17,500 bags of Indian white rice was the bureau’s second rice haul under the leadership of Cagayan de Oro District Collector Lourdes Mangaoang.
Mangaoang told reporters that based on the official documents, the 20-container vans, which carried the smuggled rice, arrived at the MCT port last November 22, 2012 while the other 15-container vans arrived on November 29, 2012.
She said her office declared the twin shipments as “overstaying and abandoned” after the consignee failed to work for the release of the shipment within the maximum period provided by law.
Customs officials said the rice, which was illegally imported by a Tarlac-based farmer’s cooperative, was seized after it lacked valid permits from the National Food Authority (NFA).
Customs Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim, who personally supervised the confiscation, said the container vans were consigned to JEFMIN Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative whose listed address is Barangay Datung Matas in Concepcion, Tarlac.
“The pattern that has emerged showed that Luzon-based farmers’ cooperative, which have no permit from the NFA, has preferred Cagayan de Oro as the unloading point for their illegal importation,” Lim said.
Lim then ordered a probe into the identity of persons financing such scam, including their protectors, either from inside or outside the BOC, as he vowed to get to the bottom of this irregularity.
He believed there were syndicates who abuse and misuse the tax-free importation privileges of farmers’ cooperatives to bring foreign-grown rice at subsidized prices, to the detriment of both local farmers and the government as well.
However, Lim guaranteed to provide unconditional support to Mangaoang’s effort to make Cagayan de Oro a hostile territory to smugglers.
Mangaoang said the string of setbacks against illegal rice importation should serve as a stern warning to importers that the Cagayan de Oro Collection District is now off-limits to smugglers.
On Tuesday last week, the BOC also seized 5,000 bags of smuggled imported rice worth P9 million loaded inside 10 to 20-footer container vans that were earlier placed under custody at the MCT port.
Lim said the smuggled sacks of Vietnamese Long Grain White Rice were consigned to “NFA FAO: Bubo Farmers Cooperative” and were imported under the Private Sector Financed, through the NFA Tax Expenditure Subsidy.
Mangaoang said the imported rice will be auctioned to raise additional revenues for the government.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 20, 2013.