SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday seized P500 million worth of rice illegally imported by an Indian company from two warehouses owned by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
The 420,000 bags of imported rice which arrived here last April 4 were found in SBMA warehouses 1010 and 1032.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said the consignee, the Metroeastern Trading Corp., failed to produce the required papers for the importation such as an allocation and import permit from the National Food Authority.
“We will never allow unscrupulous traders to exploit the privileges offered by the country’s various freeport zones like the Port of Subic to be their staging points for smuggling,” Biazon told The STAR.
In a statement, the BOC said the evidence presented to them included the packing list and commercial invoice dated last March 20 issued by Indian firm Amira Foods, stating that Metroeastern Trading was the consignee and the Port of Subic the port of discharge.
Customs officials, who asked not to be identified, said the imported rice should not have been “allowed entry unless all documents were in order.” “This is the role of SBMA. (The rice import) should not have been unloaded, much less stored in a government-owned warehouse,” one of them said.
For his part, Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Danny Lim said, “It is important to highlight that the illegally imported Indian rice was seized” before it got into the country.
The SBMA admitted that the rice shipment had incomplete papers. - By Bebot Sison Jr.