Mayor tackles rice smuggling issue-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
MAYOR Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar convened a special meeting on Tuesday of all agencies involved in the campaign against rice smuggling and other contraband items in view of persistent reports about the illegal entry of imported rice in Zamboanga City.
The move came as Salazar has cited the urgent need for a fusion of all apprehending agencies to ensure that efforts of law enforcement authorities will not be useless and futile.
She said the police authorities have reported the confiscation of at least 13,913 sacks of alleged smuggled rice during eight operations conducted starting early July.
However, all the confiscated rice were released after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) declared that the items were properly documented, specifically the payment of tax duties at the sub-ports where they come from.
Salazar said reports of rampant rice smuggling activities persist, and that the illegal entry of these imported rice affect the livelihood of local farmers, and consequently, the economy.
"The entry of cheap imported rice affects our farmers. We have to get to the bottom of this [problem]," she said.
The operations done by the police in cooperation with the Task Force Zamboanga, Customs Police and other agencies are results of information relayed by reliable sources.
Salazar stressed that the main task of the police and other law enforcement authorities is to secure and safeguard the residents, but they still have to respond to reports of alleged rice smuggling and other illegal activities.
"Zamboanga's crime rate is a problem. Our main task is securing each and every family, this [operations against rice smuggling] is not the priority of the police but the BOC has to prove its worth in a nation that is so affected by all these problems," she said.
She instructed the BOC to formally submit procedures in the importation and transport of rice and other items based on the Customs and Tariff laws from other areas to Zamboanga City.
In the same manner, Salazar tasked the National Food Authority (NFA) and the BOC to sit down with the police, Coast Guard, Navy and all other agencies concerned to collaborate efforts in the conduct of operations against smuggling of rice and other items.
Another meeting is set soon to finalize mechanisms in the conduct of such operations.
Present during Tuesday's meeting were local police officer-in-charge Senior Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo, OIC Customs collector Darwina Shuck, NFA provincial manager Gaudencio Nuega Jr., City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat, Department of Trade and Industry Provincial Director Rolando Acuña, Raul Ramon Bucoy of the Department of Agriculture, Joan Fatima Natividad of the Customs Police, lawyer Edward Fronda of the City Legal Office, and representatives from other concerned agencies.