Customs to sell P160M smuggled rice
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) – Port of Manila is auctioning about 5.5 million kilograms of rice on Tuesday, October 7.
The public auction is expected to fetch P159.86 million ($3.56 million*).
The rice shipment, housed in 245 20-ft container vans, will be sold in 8 lots. The lots comprise a total of 101,500 bags, 16,000 of which are malagkit or glutinous rice. The minimum floor price is set at P38.9 million ($865,792) or P48.67 ($1.08) per kg of glutinous rice; and P120.93 million ($2.69-million) or P25.87 ($0.58) per kg for white rice.
Mario Mendoza, customs district collector for the Port of Manila, said the rice will be sold on an “as is, where is” basis. Proceeds from the auction will be held in trust by BOC as the shipment is subject of on-going court cases. Interested buyers may view the rice to be auctioned on Friday, October 3.
“We are well within the bounds of the law to dispose of these rice shipment to preserve its value and prevent deterioration while under our custody even while cases are litigated. Furthermore, disposing of 245 container vans will be a big help in decongesting [the] South Harbor,” said Mendoza.
The rice arrived in the country through the Port of Manila in late 2013 and was seized by BOC for lack of required import permits from the National Food Authority (NFA). The public bidding was originally scheduled September 16 but Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla cancelled it to ensure full compliance with government procedures on auctions and sales.
Of the seized shipment, 160 of the containers were imported by Silent Royalty Marketing, while the remaining 85 were consigned to Bold Bidder Marketing. Both traders invoked that there is no need to get an import permit from the NFA because quantitative restrictions on the importation of rice to the Philippines under the World Trade Organization (WTO) had already expired.
However, the WTO Committee on Trade and Goods recently allowed the Philippines to extend its special treatment for rice through the imposition of quantitative restrictions until 2017.
Meanwhile, Tres Mujeres Agri Venture denied its alleged involvement in the smuggling of white rice into the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
The rice, with an estimated market value of about P50 million ($1.11-million), was stocked in 25,000, 50-kg bags, and contained in 50, 20-foot container vans.
BOC earlier identified Tres Mujeres Agri Venture as the consignee of the white rice without import permits from Bangkok, Thailand.
“Tres Mujeres continues to abide by all pertinent laws and regulations with regard to any rice importation that it undertakes. It has always acquired every permit or license necessary,” said Divina Aguilar, proprietress of the company, in a letter to Sevilla.
Aguilar said the rice imports have been “irregularly inputted by some unknown unscrupulous elements to Tres Mujeres.”
Tres Mujeres stressed in its letter that its officers, agents, attorneys-in-fact, representatives or employees, have not authorized any rice importation to date, more so, any such rice importations without being covered by any certificate of eligibility.
A total of 337 container vans of rice with about 4,000 metric tons of rice has been seized and put on hold at the Port of Manila since October 2013.
On September 4, the BOC-Manila International Container Port (MICP) Collection District earned P393.13-million ($8.75-million) from the sale of about 163,775 sacks of rice stored in 315 container vans through a public auction, 31% over the floor price set by BOC.
Smuggled rice busted in Zamboanga Del Sur
BOC also intercepted and a vessel carrying 4,000 sacks of undocumented rice in Zamboanga del Sur.
Customs authorities seized the smuggled rice with Philippine Army and Navy team when M/V Amnesia docked in Margosatubig, Zamboanga Del Sur on the night of September 26.
BOC placed the estimated value of rice at P40 per kg or P8 million ($178,054.96).
“Upon checking, the ship’s captain, Jade Jackaria, could not show any valid import permit from the NFA.
The rice shipment was not also issued any proper documents by BOC. It came from Sandakan in Malaysia.
The required documents include the import permit issued by the NFA, bill of lading, and the payment of BOC duties and other fees.
“The ship’s crew had 4, 10-wheel trucks on standby at the dock to load the rice,” Lagamon said.
The ship captain was being held for questioning over the contraband while Army soldiers were guarding the vessel and trucks. – Rappler.com
($1 = P44.93)