Solicitor general insists trader shouldn't get his rice

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Friday, January 10, 2014


THE Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a motion for reconsideration before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16 seeking to dismiss the case filed by a Dabawenyo businessman who wants his P21-million worth of rice imports taken out of the custody of the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Davao.

The OSG through solicitor Henry Ysaac, in a motion dated December 27, 2013, asserted that the complaint filed by Joseph Mangupag Ngo should be dismissed for various grounds.

Among the most striking arguments that the OSG cited in their motion was that Ngo has no permit from National Food Authority (NFA) signifying that he is a licensed rice importer or distributor.

The OSG also suggested that the plaintiff failed to establish ownership of the rice import shipments, claiming that the Ngo's name did not appear on any of the waybills and bills of lading.

Only the name of the Starcraft International Trading Corporation, the company Ngo reportedly made a deal with, appeared in the bills of lading and waybills.

OSG also cited that the Ngo's contention that the NFA is not allowed to impose quantitative restrictions on rice importations after the Philippines' exemption from the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade expired last June 30, 2012 is null since the exemption was embodied through the Republic Act (RA) 8178 or the Agriculture Tariffication Act and the Presidential Decree (PD) 4, otherwise known as An Act to Develop the Rice and Corn Industry, Create the National Grain Authority and Provide Funds Therefore.

OSG also mentioned that the RA 8178 and PD 4 is implemented through the Memorandum Circular AO-2K13-003 of NFA, thus, Ngo is still required to secure an NFA import permit regardless of whether the Philippines is exempted from the GATT if he wants his rice shipments to be released.

In lieu with the contention of Ngo with the country's exemption from the GATT of the World Trade Organization, OSG insisted that only representatives of the state and not private citizens are allowed to make contentions on the provisions of GATT.

The OSG also pointed out that the grant of the preliminary injunction in favor of Ngo last December 12 denied them of due process as the legal counsel of BOC-Davao Edward James Dy Buco only represented the defendant since he happened to be the OIC deputy district collector for operations of BOC-Davao and he is a practicing lawyer. But his representation is not enough since BOC-Davao should have consulted the matter to the OSG being the "law office of the Government."

Ysaac also noted that the court gave the plaintiff ample time to present his evidence for the writ of preliminary injunction while the defendant was not given enough time to contest the plaintiffs pleading.

OSG also implied that the court approved the writ of preliminary injunction filed by Ngo despite that the latter missed certain elements that constitute the issuance of preliminary injunctions.

RTC Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio is yet to set a schedule a hearing as he will be giving Ngo 10 days to respond to the motion of OSG.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 11, 2014.

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