President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday assured the confiscated smuggled rice, which is now being distributed to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, is safe for consumption.
“This went through the right process of investigation, confiscation and inspection to ensure it is safe for distribution to the needy,” the Chief Executive said in Filipino during the rice distribution in San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.
At least 1,000 sacks of rice were distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to 4Ps beneficiaries during the event.
The distributed rice were part 42,180 sacks of rice seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Zamboanga earlier this month.
Last week, the government started distributing parts of the confiscated rice to 4Ps beneficiaries in Zamboanga City and Cavite.
Smuggled agriculture products do not go through the needed sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) to ensure they are free from potential disease, pests or harmful substances.
Marcos said he ordered the distribution of the smuggled rice after it went through the necessary inspection to help the needy following the recent spike in rice prices.
“Instead of these [sacks of] rice to be wasted, we opted to distribute it to citizens,” the President said.
The distribution, he added, was also part of the government’s intensified campaign against smugglers and hoarders, which he called “bukbok” (weevil)—a beetle harmful to crops—for destroying the local rice market through price manipulation.
“That is why I ordered all officials, authorities, and agencies to intensify the implementation of policies and laws on the issue related to rice,” Marcos said.
“I know this will be an uphill battle since they [smugglers and hoarders] have long dominated the market, but I am determined to use the full force of the government to stop these illegal operations,” he added.