NBI, Customs reports to help rice smuggling probe: ombud

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Thursday, February 13, 2014


THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Central Visayas have submitted their reports to the Office of Ombudsman Visayas regarding the alleged pilferage of 500 sacks of rice at the Cebu International Port (CIP).

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said the contents of the reports are deemed confidential so as not to preempt their investigation.

“We are evaluating all the submitted documents to determine sufficiency of evidence,” Apostol said.

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The documents submitted by the NBI 7 and the BOC will help graft investigators determine whether to upgrade the fact-finding of the case into a preliminary investigation, or terminate the case for lack of evidence.

Will they suffice?

“The question now is whether the reports of the NBI and BOC can support the upgrading of fact-finding into preliminary investigation,” Apostol said.

Findings of the state auditors and the NBI will be used in the course of the investigation, he said.

Apostol said the duration of the investigation will depend on the documentary evidence and testimonies of the witnesses.

The missing rice, valued at about P780,000, was part of P1.2 billion worth of smuggled rice that arrived in Cebu in different shipments last year.

Under the Tariff and Customs Code, the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service is the official guardian of all cargoes seized and forfeited in favor of the government.

The BOC seized the goods last March and last April. The rice, which was stored at the heavily guarded CIP, was supposed to be sold in public auctions last June 25 and July 18.

However, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima reportedly ordered resigned Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to stop the auctions.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2014.

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