THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has seized at least P300 million worth of illegally imported rice since President Rodrigo Duterte gave the order last month to conduct operations against rice hoarders, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said Thursday, October 11.
Albayalde said a joint PNP-Bureau of Customs (BOC) team discovered 124,807 sacks of illegally imported rice in seven warehouses in Bulacan.
The team conducted random inspection in 801 warehouses across the country, which contain a total of 1.059 million sacks of rice.
Of the 801 warehouses inspected, 168 were in Central Luzon, 137 in the Cagayan Valley Region and 139 in the Ilocos Region while the others were in Metro Manila, Cordillera and several areas in Western Mindanao and Bicol region.
Albayalde said the 801 warehouses inspected by the team had an aggregate holding capacity of 7.2 million sacks but contained only 1.059 million sacks during the inspection.
“The PNP initiated inspection of rice warehouses on instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to crack down on hoarding and smuggling of rice that resulted in an artificial shortage in rice supply,” he said.
“Even as restrictions on rice importation had been relaxed, entities behind the P300-million rice smuggling may face permanent revocation of their import license,” Albayalde added.
The President ordered on October 9 the "unimpeded" importation of rice as a measure to tame the elevated inflation rate.
Albayalde earlier said the PNP has beefed up its intelligence operations to locate rice hoarders and address the country’s rice shortage. (SunStar Philippines)