Biazon tweets no mention of alleged smuggler of “hot rice” using Davao Port, but explains

nov 17, 2013

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon asked in Twitter by a popular sports commentator on what action he has made on the alleged smuggler of “hot rice” using the Davao City port tweeted back trying to clarify his agency’s position on rice smuggling issue.

Sports commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz tweeted Biazon this Sunday: “The name of the alleged smuggler was given. What has Customs done about this?”

The commentator called the attention of Biazon on a news story “Davao import probe pushed” carried Sunday by a Manila paper, where the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) called for a Senate inquiry on the rampant smuggling of rice in the country, particularly in ports outside of Metro Manila, such as the BOC’s Davao port.

“The Manila Standard reports about 200,000 metric tons of rice being smuggled through Davao. Is this also not true?” Nathanielsz asked further.

Sinag president Rosendo So said that there was a recent entry of more than 200,000 cavans of hot rice that have been smuggled through the Davao port.

“We believe that the hot rice shipment is still part of the smuggling operations of a certain David Tan,” So added.

Sinag – a coalition of 33 farmers’ and irrigators’ associations – earlier tagged Tan as the head of the country’s biggest rice smuggling syndicate.

Biazon replied in series of tweets that “What is being reported as smuggled rice are those which were imported without getting import permits.”

“The rice has been put on hold by customs, not allowed to be released,” he said.

“The importers didn’t get import permits becoz they believe they don’t need it w/ the expiration of Quantitative Restrictions (under World Trade Organization agreements),” he added.

“The NFA’s position is that import permits are still required inspite of the expiration of QR under WTO agreements” and “(as) implementors of policy, we will implement the policies of regulatory agencies such as NFA,” Biazon said.

However, “(T)he importers took legal action to question our actions in holding the shipments,” he added.

The report said that last month the Department of Agriculture and BOC also seized 403 container vans of smuggled rice in Davao. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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