BOC discovers 2 warehouses with “overpriced” imported rice

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BOC discovers 2 warehouses with “overpriced” imported rice
During the initial investigation, a trader was found selling a 25-kilogram sack of Vietnamese rice for P1,320 in the market, equivalent to P52.8 per kg, higher than the prescribed price ceiling of P41-P45 per kg of regular milled and well-milled rice, respectively. Photo from the Bureau of Customs.
  • The Bureau of Customs discovered warehouses with supposedly overpriced imported rice
  • The rice grains in the Las Piñas and Cavite warehouses originated from Vietnam, Thailand and China and were valued at P40 million
  • A trader was found selling rice above the price ceiling set by the Department of Agriculture, according to BOC
  • Senator Francis Escudero urged authorities to file cases and not just seize alleged smuggled imported rice or agricultural products

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) discovered warehouses with supposedly overpriced imported rice, the agency said in a statement.

The two warehouses, with a total of P40 million inventory, are located in Las Piñas and Cavite and were inspected on September 14, 2023, led by BOC, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, Enforcement and Security Service, Port of Manila, Legal Service, Philippine Coast Guard, and barangay officials.

The rice originated from Vietnam, Thailand and China.

During the initial investigation, a trader was found selling a 25-kilogram sack of Vietnamese rice for P1,320 in the market, equivalent to P52.8 per kg.

“This price significantly exceeded the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) prescribed range of P41-45 per kilo for well-milled and regular-milled rice,” the BOC said in a Facebook post.

The warehouse owner, however, claimed they are mere “traders” and not “importers.”

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Customs agents gave the warehouse owner 15 days to submit proof of payment of correct duties and taxes from their supplier or importer.

Over the weekend, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said law enforcers should not stop at seizing rice found to be imported and sold illegally.

“We should not be content with just doing raids… We should bring them to the court of justice to prove that this administration is resolute in its campaign against rice cartel,” Escudero said in a statement.

He said the BOC must file cases against individuals allegedly involved in rice smuggling and hoarding the food staple, resulting in high retail prices.

“Why haven’t I heard anyone [being] sued for economic sabotage?” Escudero asked. “Who owns these warehouses? Who are the people involved?”

Under Republic Act No. 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, he noted that individuals suspected of involvement in large-scale smuggling of agricultural products may be held liable for economic sabotage.

The senator issued the statement after the BOC announced a separate operation where it confiscated 42,180 sacks of rice, worth some P42 million, in Zamboanga City.