MANILAThe Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have seized PHP300-million worth of smuggled rice, which is now the subject of forfeiture proceedings in favor of the government.
According to PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana, the operations of the PNP-BOC team, which started last July 23 led to the discovery of 124,807 sacks of illegally-imported rice in seven warehouses in Bulacan.
The smuggled rice were confiscated during random inspections on 801 warehouses containing 1,059,729 sacks of rice in different locations nationwide.
"Ito rin ang (This is the) major concern of the President (Rodrigo Duterte). There were unimpeded (importation) of rice dahil tumataas nga ang presyo at nakita natin may hoarding na nangyari kaya nga (because rice prices continue to soar and we saw that there are hoarding activities. This is why) we were able to discover 124,807 sacks of rice from different warehouses all over the country, Durana said in a press conference Thursday.
He said that among the 801 warehouses inspected, 168 were in Region 3 (Central Luzon), 137 in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), and 139 in Region 1 (Ilocos), 75 in Region 5 (Bicol), 59 in Region 9 (Western Mindanao), 40 in the Cordillera Administrative Region and two in the National Capital Region.
The remaining warehouses were scattered in other regions.
All 801 warehouses had an aggregate holding capacity of 7.2-million sacks but contained only 1,059,729 sacks during the inspection.
Durana said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and BOC will be filing cases against persons or corporations owning the warehouses.
He added that even as restrictions on rice importation had been relaxed, entities behind the PHP300-million rice smuggling may face permanent revocation of their import licenses.
The inspection of warehouses is in compliance to President Rodrigo Duterte's directive for a crackdown on rice hoarding and smuggling that resulted in an artificial shortage in the staple's supply. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency