Rice smuggling

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


THERE is the report over the weekend that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed a case of rice smuggling against officials of a multi-purpose cooperative for the unlawful importation of rice into the country. The rice, which was unlawfully brought into the country, is estimated to be more than 28,000 bags with “an estimated market value of P34 million.”

Charged of rice smuggling is the San Carlos Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Sacamuco) based in Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental.

This should be a most welcomed news to the country, as the effort to fight illegal entries of varied commodities have long been a running “gun battle” of the government through the BOC as well as the other anti-corruption agencies, to no avail.

In fact, the BOC has seen how the public careers of many good officials have been derailed when they became the agency’s commissioners. A recent example is former BOC commissioner Ruffy Biazon, who had chosen to voluntarily resign.

Note that it is not only the BOC that is having trouble containing similar quick money-making activity in our government. There is also the case of the fake special allotment release order (Saro) which is being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and may have cost the government millions in pesos, too, of
illegally released funds.

The NBI has already reportedly given its findings to the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), who is said to be evaluating it now. Behind the fake Saro is a group called the “Xerox Gang” said to be doing the forgery at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Frankly, these “operations” at the DBM and the BOC should give us reason to pause and re-think our position regarding the effort of some people in our midst to “weaken” our country by simply sapping its strength through the loss of taxes. I am afraid we are “vamping” ourselves.

Rice smuggling has been a familiar condition in our country since I cm remember. Even between provinces, smuggling has been done before.

I recall that that among rice traders, there was a sort of communication from rice sources to rice consuming ports or areas. For instance, traders from Cebu or Manila who would receive stocks shipped from Cotabato or Davao would like to know the quantity of the supply shipped, and how much was the price per bag or metric tons.

In that way, traders from Cebu or Manila would have knowledge on the supply, and thus they would be able to determine the price of the rice based on the quantity of the
shipment, and how much supply and price they could release to the retail market.

Likewise, traders in Cebu or Manila would also communicate to traders in Davao or Cotabato the market behavior on their end so they would know up to what price they could buy at source.

That is the way the rice trading went in the country before. And smuggling occurs at the Cebu or Manila end when the recipient traders in these two places would try get better profits by evading duties or taxes from the shipment. It was like a cat-and-mouse game.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 12, 2014.

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