BOC files agri smuggling complaints vs. rice importers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 1) – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed four agricultural smuggling complaints against rice importers allegedly linked to a Bulacan warehouse used to store the commodity, an official said.

“Ito po iyong mga ni-raid noong Aug. 24 sa Bulacan and pardon me po kung hindi ko mapapangalanan iyong mga akusado,” William Balayo, acting director of the BOC Legal Service, said in news forum on Saturday.

[Translation: These stem from raids conducted in Bulacan last Aug. 24, and pardon me if I cannot name the accused.]

“Tatlo po dito ay iyong  [Three of these are] economic sabotage,” he added, meaning these are considered large-scale cases as these exceed the ₱10-million minimum threshold for smuggled rice under the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

He explained one of the cases did not meet the value threshold mandated by the law so it was downgraded to a violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, though it is still considered agricultural smuggling.

Last August, the BOC discovered a series of warehouses across Bulacan found to contain over ₱1 billion in imported rice.

The BOC raided three containing ₱505 million worth of smuggled rice from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. It found another four storing rice from Vietnam and Pakistan, valued at ₱519 million.


Customs shuts down warehouses storing 'smuggled' rice in Bulacan 

Customs authorities find ₱519M imported rice in several warehouses in Bulacan 

Marlon Agaceta, the BOC commissioner’s chief of staff, said the bureau served four letters of authority (LOAs) against the four warehouses. These required the importers to submit documents proving the legality of their importation and the correct payment of dues and taxes.

For the two of them, the deadline for LOA submission lapsed on Sept. 29.

“But the two other LOAs which were served on Sept.15, mayroon pa po silang (they have) two more days to submit and ongoing po iyong inventory [the inventory is ongoing],” Agaceta said Saturday.

The BOC also said that the Metropolitan Trial Court - National Judicial Capital Region Branch 24 convicted another importer for agricultural smuggling.

In June 2020, Real Mart consigned a shipment of carrots from Singapore which was misdeclared as 2,500 cartons of frozen pastry buns. The following September, the BOC filed a complaint versus Divina Bisco Aguilar, Real Mart’s proprietor.

The court sentenced Aguilar to three years and one day up to four years in prison.