In furtherance to the marching order of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to intensify operations against rice smuggling, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, found an estimated P519 million worth of rice grains and “palay” in several warehouses in Bulacan province.
Upon thorough inspection of four warehouses located in Wakas, Bocaue and San Juan, Balagtas, both in Bulacan province, the BOC Inspection Team found 154,000 sacks of imported rice grains and 60,000 sacks of “palay.”
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.
Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio stressed that: “Yesterday, 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”.
The BOC Inspection Team is composed of Intelligence Group Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Verne Enciso, elements of the CIIS at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Task Force Aduana.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Representatives Erwin Tulfo, Wilfrido Mark Enverga, and Ambrosio Cruz Jr. also witnessed the inspection.
Commissioner Rubio signed the Letters of Authority (LOAs) directing the inspection of the Bulacan warehouses, which came a week after the inspection of another batch of Bulacan warehouses similarly witnessed by the House Speaker and lawmakers.
When the team arrived, the LOAs were served to the respective representatives of the warehouses before proceeding to inspect the said warehouses.
Depcom Uy disclosed that they received derogatory information about the warehouses and swiftly acted on its verification for the subsequent issuance of the LOAs.
“The key here is acting with immediacy because we understand that we are fighting against big-time organizations that can potentially cripple our agricultural sector. This is important not only to our agricultural workers, our farmers, but more so for the everyday Juan who toils to put food on the table,” he said.
For Enciso, the “impressive results” of the recent operations should fire up the bureau to put an end to rice smuggling.
“Our intel about how massive the scale of these activities drives us to be one step ahead of any potential smuggling attempt. And so while we commend the people behind every operation, we must enjoin them to build up on the past successes and work on bringing these smugglers to justice,” he added.
Currently, the warehouses were temporarily padlocked and sealed as inventory of the imported goods stored thereat is being conducted by the assigned Customs examiners and witnessed by agents from CIIS, PCG, and the warehouse representatives.
The visitorial and inspection authority of the BOC is in accordance with Chapter 2, Section 224 of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).