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Customs foils P20-M rice smuggling try

Keeping a watchful eye on illegal shipments, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) foiled an attempt to smuggle P20-million worth of imported rice from China in the Port of Manila.

BOC intercepted the illegal rice loaded in 12 container vans after the shipment was alerted by the agency’s Command Center last October 4  based on suspicious images captured by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in POM.

“When they knew we seized and alerted (the rice shipment),they abandoned it immediately,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon told reporters in yesterday’s media viewing.

The BOC chief identified the shipment’s consignee as RPR International Trading, while the broker was Ibarra Tiangco.

He ordered the suspension of their accreditation in the Department of Finance (DOF)-attached agency.

The illegal rice shipment, consigned to RPR International Trading, was declared to contain leatherette upon arrival at the Manila Port lastAugust 20.

But actual inspection showed the container vans were filled with illegal rice from China.

In his almost four months in office, Faeldon claimed that this is the first time an importer attempted to smuggle rice at POM.

He said previous rice seizures of BOC were mostly in Mindanao, where they intercepted five vessels carrying illegally imported rice.

Faeldon said they also swooped down on two warehouses in Zamboanga, where they caught the actual repacking of smuggled Vietnamese rice.

The BOC is considering its option to donate the seized rice to government agencies tasked to distribute relief goods to typhoon victims.

“We have government agencies that need rice. Under the law, we can donate through DSWD. They will determine what office will use that. There are so many calamities in the past. We can use these for calamity victims and other purposes,” he said.