MANILA — The Bureau of Customs seized more than 42,000 bags of rice with an estimated value of P42 million in a raid on a warehouse in Zamboanga City.
Lawyer Benny Lontok of the BOC’s Port of Zamboanga said in a forum in Quezon City on Saturday that they received a tip in May about the alleged smuggled rice.
Their district director received information that a big volume of rice arrived through the port but no one filed an import entry.
This prompted them to request for an inspection. Upon checking, they found that the items listed in the document of the warehouse did not match the items actually inside.
The BOC has issued a warrant to forfeit the goods in favor of the government.
Lontok said the investigation for criminal prosecution is still pending.
Apart from rice, he said, other products usually smuggled through the port of Zamboanga are cigarettes and fuel from Indonesia and Malaysia.
“We are committed na labanan ang smuggling ng agricultural products lalo na ang bigas,” he said.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. last month ordered the agency to strengthen its efforts against rice hoarding and illegal importation, amid high rice prices that some attribute to the schemes.