MANILA, Philippines – The National Food Authority (NFA) has asked the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to watch out for the possible illegal entry of 120,000 metric tons (MT) of rice from Vietnam.
In letter dated Oct. 21, NFA administrator Orlan Calayag informed Customs commissioner Rufino Biazon of reports of an agreement between unnamed Filipino traders with Vietnam Food Association for the supply of such volume.
“This agreement was made without prior consent from the NFA,” said Calayag.
A wires report last month said that Vietnam has signed contracts to sell 120,000 of rice to private companies in the Philippines.
“For your information, the planned importation is in violation of Republic Act 8178 and Presidential Decree No. 4, as amended,” Calayag said in his letter. “Rice cannot be imported in the Philippines without an import permit from the NFA.”
Calayag noted that Republic Act 8178 also known as “The Agricultural Tariffication Act,” mandates the NFA to require importation permits for rice shipments upon assessment of the current supply.
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NFA also informed the BOC that rice is being smuggled into the country in container vans from Vietnam through ports in Thailand, Singapore or Taiwan.
Earlier, the NFA asked BOC to go after five traders that have allegedly smuggled into the country, through the port of Davao, 243,000 50-kilogram bags of rice. The shipments, which originated from Vietnam arrived betwen July and September.
The NFA said the shipments were sent to the Philippines via a port in Bangkok.
The agency also recommended the filing of charges against Customs staff and officials who allowed the shipments to leave the port without permits.
The consignees have been identified as: Bold Bidder Marketing & General Merchandise, Jade Bros. Farms & Livestock Inc., Medaglia de Oro Trading, Silent Royalty Marketing, and Starcraft Trading Corp.
At NFA’s request, some 69,500 50-kilogram bags of imported rice that arrived at the Port of Davao had already been put on hold while the legality of the shipments are being verified.
Shipments of 34,700 50-kilogram bags that arrived at the port on Sept. 6 were consigned to the San Carlos Multipurpose Cooperative.
Shipments of 34,800 50-kilogram bags that arrived at the port last Oct. 19, meanwhile, were consigned to Starcraft Trading Corp.