President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. revealed the government might slash by half the prescribed validation period for suspected smuggled rice shipments.
The Chief Executive said the current 15 days given to importers of such shipments to present the necessary supporting documents is too long.
“We are now trying to reduce the 15 days to seven day because if you are a legal importer, you should already have the document so that when you are required to present it, you [can] do so immediately,” Marcos said in Filipino during the distribution of smuggled rice in General Trias, Cavite, on Friday.
Over 1,200 sacks of rice were distributed to 1,200 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries at the General Trias Sports Park.
Marcos, who is also the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, also distributed P1,577,000 worth of various assistance from the Department of Agriculture to at least 217 farmers and other beneficiaries from Cavite.
Last Tuesday, Marcos also led the distribution of 1,500 sacks of premium quality rice to 4Ps beneficiaries in Zamboanga City.
The distributed sacks of rice were part of the 42,180 sacks confiscated by the Bureau of Customs-Port of Zamboanga and were later donated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Marcos blamed the recent spike in rice prices to hoarding by some rice traders.
“They will smuggle rice then they will hoard it to make its price rise, then they will sell it for a large profit,” the President said in Filipino.
To address the issue, Marcos issued Executive Order No. 39, which imposed a price cap P41 per kilogram (kg) price cap for regular milled rice (RMR) and P45 per kg for well-milled rice (WMR) nationwide.
He also certified as urgent the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2432, which will define the crimes of agricultural economic sabotage and create the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Council.
Image credits: PNA/Rey Baniquet