MALACAÑANG on Sunday reported the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is now seeking to confiscate over 200,000 sacks of suspected smuggled rice from warehouses in Bulacan.
In a press statement, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil disclosed BOC has issued warrants of seizure and detention for the 236,571 sacks from four warehouses, which it inspected in Bulacan last Friday.
“The BOC said they are still waiting for the comments of the government prosecutor as far as the discovery of the sacks of rice is concerned,” Garafil said.
The initiative was part of the government’s intensified campaign against rice smugglers and hoarders after the unusual spike in the price of the food staple last month.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. attributed the trend to price manipulation by unscrupulous individuals, which prompted him to impose the following price cap: P41 per kilogram (kg) for regular milled rice (RMR) and P45 per kg for well-milled rice (WMR) nationwide.
The pronouncement has led the BOC to file four smuggling charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against rice smugglers in Bulacan.
PCO noted that BOC is now building up its case against the reported smugglers in Zamboanga City, which allowed it to confiscate 42,000 sacks of smuggled rice, which were donated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
DSWD distributed the donated rice to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay; San Roque, Zamboanga City; General Trias City, Cavite; Iriga City, Camarines Sur; San Andres, Manila; Dapa, Surigao del Norte; and Dinagat Islands.
Customs officials also issued letters of authority (LOA) to warehouses in Cavite and in Las Piñas City, and two warehouses in Manila, which are also suspected to contain smuggled goods.
“It is now awaiting the submission of necessary documents from the two warehouse owners in Cavite and Las Piñas City,” Garafil said.
The Marcos administration is currently trying to address the rise in food prices after inflation accelerated to 5.9 percent last August from 5.6 percent from the month before.
Last Friday, the Palace announced that the President also issued Executive Order No. 41, which prohibited local government units (LGU) from collecting “pass-through fees” for national roads to help “temper” inflation rate.