Wife defends hubby over smuggling rap

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Friday, January 24, 2014


THE wife of businessman David Lim who appeared before the Senate Committee on Agriculture the other day has admitted that she imported rice in 2012, but with the “minimum access volume” (MAV) issued by the government and with an import permit from the National Food Authority (NFA).

Judelyn “Bebong” Lim said it’s unfair to drag her husband’s name into the rice smuggling controversy when he did not engage in illegal rice importation.

Judelyn said that in 2012, a farmer’s cooperative in Bicol convinced her to engage in a joint venture with them to import rice as they had MAV.

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The National Government allows rice importation under MAV because this forms part of the country’s rice needs that the local farmers failed to produce.

Surprised

But Judelyn said they were surprised when then Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Rozzano Rufuno Biazon ordered the seizure of the rice shipment five days upon its arrival in Legaspi City.

Under the Tariff and Customs Code, an importer has 30 days to file an import entry for the shipment, and beyond that, it can be considered abandoned and subject to seizure and forfeiture.

She said Biazon told them the shipment didn’t have an import permit from the NFA.

Judelyn said they went to court, which eventually resolved that the importation was legal because it was done under a joint venture with a rice farmer’s cooperative and
with MAV.

The court ordered the NFA to issue an import permit on the shipment.

However, Judelyn said Biazon refused to obey the court order and instead referred the matter to the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC). The OGCC opined that the shipment must be issued an NFA import permit.

Real motive

The NFA eventually issued an import permit but did not release it to the importing cooperative, which was why the BOC continued to detain the cargo.

Judelyn said she was surprised the BOC insisted the shipment was illegal when the agency follows the same system and it has been implementing the same procedure under MAV.

“Since our bad experience with the BOC in 2012, we stopped engaging in a joint venture with the farmer’s cooperative in 2013,” she said.

The controversy on illegal rice importations involving a certain David Tan broke out last year.

Judelyn said her husband’s name was dragged to the controversy because somebody wants to divert public attention from the real David Tan.

When BOC Port of Cebu District Collector Roberto Almadin was asked if his office had a record or any document that would identify Lim as rice importer in 2013, he said he has not found one.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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