House conducts executive session on illegal entry of rice in Subic

TWO House Committees met in a joint executive session to finalize its report on its inquiry on the reported illegal entry to the Subic Bay Freeport  of 4520-million worth of 420, 000 bags of rice allegedly smuggled from India, which customs agents seized recently.

The Committees on Food Security and on Agriculture and Food have invited the officials of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and of the National Food Authority (NFA) as resource persons to shed light on the issue.

The two committees had conducted three previous meetings on House Resolution 2625 filed by Rep. Agapito Guanlao (Party-list, Butil), and is in the process of preparing a committee report on the matter.

Guanlao filed House Resolution 2625 urging the committees on Food Security and on Agriculture and Food to conduct a joint investigation, in aid of legislation on the alleged spurious entry of 420,000 50-kilogram sacks of rice worth about P450 million.

According to Guanlao the BoC seized a huge volume of Indian white rice shipment unloaded and abandoned in two warehouses at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Freeport allegedly consigned to an Indian company.

Guanlao said the consignee of the shipment failed to produce the required importation documents and import permits from the NFA and allegedly, the shipment’s import permit to Jakarta had lapsed due to delayed transshipment from India, forcing the vessel to seek for ports that allow transshipments, in this case, the Subic Bay Freeport.

“This attempt at large-scale rice smuggling is a looming threat to rice farmers whose produce are eventually forced to compete with cheap smuggled rice in the local market and that renders the rice production industry unviable,” Guanlao said.

Guanlao said that unabated rice smuggling derails government efforts to attain self-sufficiency in rice.

“This large scale rice smuggling at the Subic Freeport could not have even been attempted at all without connivance from port authorities or personnel. It is therefore incumbent upon the BoC and the NFA to shed light on this attempted large-scale rice smuggling,” Guanlao said.

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