BOC gets P393M from rice auction
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) earned a record high P393.13 million ($8.957 million*) from the auction of 163,775 sacks of smuggled rice confiscated from erring traders in 2013.
The amount is higher than the P299.69 million ($6.828 million*) estimate of Manila International Container Port (MICP) district collector Elmir Dela Cruz.
As private port operators clear out the congested Manila harbor, Dela Cruz said the profitable disposal of 315 container vans of smuggled rice at the MICP “will also help reduce congestion inside the country’s largest port.”
“We are pleased with the outcome of the auction which we conducted with utmost care and consideration for transparency, accountability, and compliance with policies and procedures,” he said.
The BOC seized the rice stocks between October and November 2013, from Bold Bidder Marketing, and the San Carlos Multi Purpose Cooperative, said Dela Cruz.
The BOC said the auction was "almost stymied" when the lawyers of concerned rice traders accompanied representatives from the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) who served a a 20-day temporary restraining order on a portion of the rice auction.
In a two-page resolution dated September 11, signed by Associate Justices Lovell Bautista and Esperanza Fabon-Victorino, the CTA's Third Division said the BOC could not proceed with the auction “to prevent irreparable injury on the petitioner while the case is still being heard.”
But Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla insisted that the traders lacked the necessary importation permits from the National Food Authority (NFA), which oversees fair competition among imported and local rice traders.
“The very basis invoked by these rice traders is now moot and academic. We have always maintained that all imported rice without valid NFA permits is illegal and now that the WTO has allowed the Philippines to keep imposing quotas on rice imports, this policy should be very clear by now to all rice importers,” Sevilla said.
The winning bidders, said Dela Cruz, would be required to pay 50% of the bid price on the spot through cash or manager’s check “as duly certified to by the Auction Committee and the Commission on Audit representative.” Half of the balance must be paid on the next day, September 12.
A total of 16 bidders participated in the auction: Jomarro Rice Mill, LOM Marketing, Leeward Enterprises, Nenita Biag, Purefeeds Corp., Sta. Rosa Farm, Soda Enterprise, Veramar Rice Mill, Victor Del Rosario, Villarubio Pharmacare, Universal Pacific Corp. and Marolau General Merchandise.
The rice was sold in 8 lots to 3 bidders. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P43.9