Bulacan rice warehouse owners deny smuggling allegations, lawyer says

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2018 11:48 PM

MANILA - The legal counsel of the warehouse owners whose facility was recently padlocked by Bureau of Customs in Marilao, Bulacan for allegedly smuggling rice in the country said his clients have the complete documents to prove that their rice importation is legal. 

Atty. Honicito Balsolla did not name his clients but said he had the import permit and payment records of all duties and taxes related to the sacks of rice in question. 

“Lehitimo po yan, hindi po iyan smuggled. It has an import permit. These were newly loaded rice, meron siyang import permit. And the duties and taxer were paid,” Balsolla said.

According to Balsolla, his clients were allowed to import rice by the government. 

“Meron pong terms of reference o MAV or minimum access volume, issued ng NFA, dito po sa document na ito may allocation ang China, its 50,000 metric tons, that’s about 1 million sacks of rice. Lehitimo po yan, hindi po iyan smuggled. It has an import permit,” Balsolla said.

Balsolla showed the letter of authority issued by the Bureau of Customs allowing BOC personnel to inspect the warehouse. 

“There is a letter of authority coming from the commissioner of Customs, ito 'yung authority nila and to inspect this particular warehouse,” Balsolla said.

Balsolla said they don’t know who gave the information to BOC that the rice in the warehouse was allegedly smuggled. 

“It’s really disturbing especially on the part of my client nung stocks of rice, kasi these are legitimate imported rice coming from China. So it’s very disturbing why there is such wrong information coming out feeding wrong information to the personnel of Bureau of Customs that this particular warehouse contains smuggled or illegal sacks of rice,” Balsolla said.

Supt. Ricardo Pangan, Jr., the Marilao, Bulacan chief of police, said the owners did not coordinate with Bureau of Customs.

“Yun ang hinihintay po nila na dumating ang nag-padlock ng bodega para once and for all matapos na ang issue. Legal naman daw lahat ng documents. Inimport na rice ay galing sa China, naroon lahat,” Pangan said.

“Hinihintay nga po nila ang pagbalik ng BOC na nag-padlock kanilang madaling araw sa bodega na ipi-present niya ang mga legal documents na initially ipinakita po sa akin, import permit, packing lease, nagpapatunay na ang mga bigas na nasa bodega ay coming from China,” Pangan added.