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New raid yields P519M rice, palay

Aug 15, 2023


THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday padlocked four rice mills in Bulacan where an estimated P519 million worth of rice grains and palay (unhusked rice) were discovered, just days after a raid of four warehouses also in the province yielded P505 million worth of imported rice.

Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said 154,000 sacks of imported rice grains and 60,000 sacks of palay were discovered at the following Bulacan rice mills: Gold Rush Rice Mill in San Juan, Balagtas; JSS Rice Mill in Wakas, Bocaue; Gold Rush Rice Mill 2 also in Wakas; and another one with a gray gate located inside the Intercity Industrial Complex in San Juan, Balagtas.

The BOC raiding team was joined by a contingent from the House of Representatives led by Speaker Martin Romualdez.

The random inspection comes a day after President Marcos Jr. directed the BOC to continue raiding warehouses and other storage facilities to address the persistent problem of hoarding, illegal importation and smuggling of rice in the country.

“We have ordered the Bureau of Customs to continue the hunt for illegal importers and hoarders of rice and agricultural goods. The illicit trade of our most precious agricultural commodities shall never prosper,” the President said on Tuesday on his official Facebook account.

The President issued the directive during a sectoral meeting in Malacañang attended by officials from the BOC and the Department of Agriculture (DA), among others.

Last August 24, a team led by Rubio, together with operatives from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), CIIS-Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Task Force Aduana, inspected the Great Harvest Rice Mill Warehouse, San Pedro Warehouse, and FS Rice Mill Warehouse and found over 200,000 sacks of imported rice grains from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand worth P505 million.

The BOC said the 154,000 sacks of imported rice grains came from Vietnam and Pakistan and have an estimated value of P431 million, while the 60,000 sacks of palay are valued at P88 million.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a sectoral meeting with the President, who gave a clear directive about how we can help stop the rising cost of rice in the market. So, this is our answer to that order. We have just discovered four warehouses storing rice grains and palay, and if the owners of these warehouses fail to show proper documents that they legitimately imported the subject sacks of rice and paid correct duties and taxes thereon, then we will take immediate legal action and confiscate the items here,” Rubio said in a statement.

The warehouses were temporarily padlocked and sealed as inventory of the goods was immediately conducted by assigned Customs examiners and witnessed by agents from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and warehouse representatives.

The BOC’s inspection authority is in accordance with Chapter 2, Section 224 of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Rubio signed and authorized the inspection of the Bulacan warehouses.

“Hoarders need to understand that the government led by President Marcos Jr. is serious in flushing out the people behind the price manipulation of rice. Kung hindi makukuha sa simpleng pakiusap, baka magtanda sila kapag nakulong (If they can’t be persuaded to stop, maybe they’ll learn when they’re jailed,” said Romualdez, who joined the raid with fellow lawmakers upon the BOC’s invitation.

Aside from Rubio, the inspection team was composed of Intelligence Group Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy, CIIS Director Verne Enciso, elements of the CIIS at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the PCG Task Force Aduana.

Romualdez was accompanied by Reps. Erwin Tulfo (PL, ACT-CIS), Mark Enverga of Quezon, who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, and Ambrosio Cruz Jr. of Bulacan.

Romualdez, who ordered the Enverga panel to probe the hoarding of rice and other agricultural products like onions, has assured Filipino consumers that the surprise inspection at warehouses holding rice stocks last week “was not a one-hit wonder.”

“That is why we are urging BOC chief Rubio to follow through their efforts during their raids. This should result in the filing of criminal cases of economic sabotage against these opportunists. Sila ang yumayaman sa paghihirap ng mga tao (They are enriching themselves at the expense of the people),” he said.

BOC padlocks 4 Bulacan rice millsBY ANGELA CELIS and WENDELL VIGILIA