MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday said it had seized about P500 million worth of smuggled Vietnam rice at the Subic Port.
Customs officials said the seizure of some 420,000 sacks of rice was the bureau's biggest rice haul yet.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said the container vans carrying the rice arrived at the port last April 4. The container vans were consigned to Metroeastern Trading Corp.
Biazon said the items were seized after the consignee failed to produce proper documents for rice importation.
“There was clearly a grand design to illegally slip the 420,000 bags of imported white rice into the country as, not only was the importation undocumented, but it’s consignee tried to make the shipment appear as a transshipment load to Jakarta,” Biazon said in a statement.
Biazon said Metroeastern Trading Corp. later claimed, in its appeal for the lifting of the Warrant of Seizure and Detention order, that the real consignee of the items was India-based Amira C Foods International DMCC.
Metroeastern said Amira was forced to transship the goods to Subic after it was not allowed to unload the items at the Port of Jakarta in Indonesia due to a lapsed importation permit.
However, Port of Subic Former District Collector Errol B. Albano did not accept Metroeastern’s reason and said that documents proved that the items were indeed originally bound for Subic.
“Without doubt, this is a case of large scale attempt to smuggle rice into the country. Had we not stopped this illegal rice importation, it could have caused tremendous damage to our local farmers,” Biazon said.
Amira filed an appeal last June 29 and the case is currenly undergoing review.