Marcos orders Customs bureau to continue ‘warehouse raids’ to fight hoarding, illegal rice imports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has instructed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to continue raids on warehouses to address issues of hoarding and illegal rice importation, the Customs chief said on Tuesday.

In a Palace briefing, Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said the president’s directive is for the BOC to validate all warehouses that are storing imported rice and issue letters of authority to inspect these warehouses.

“We will be conducting more inspections of these warehouses,” Rubio told reporters. “The inspection and visitation will be coordinated with other agencies like the DA (Department of Agriculture) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry).”

The BOC on Aug. 25 said it temporarily sealed and guarded three warehouses located inside the Intercity Industrial Complex in Balagtas, Bulacan, which reportedly were storing smuggled rice worth ₱505 million. 

Rubio said owners of these warehouses were given until Sept. 8 to show proof of payment of duties and taxes for rice importation.

“Pag hindi nakapagbigay ng correct payment of duties and taxes, magkakaroon ng issuance of warant of seizure and detention na magbibigay ng authority para ikumpiska ang imported articles stored in the warehouses,” he said,

[Translation: If they cannot present the correct payment of duties and taxes, we will issue a warrant of seizure and detention to provide the BOC the authority to confiscate the imported articles stored in the warehouses.]

The warehouses contain around 202,000 sacks of imported rice grains  reportedly from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, the BOC said.

CNN Philippines is trying to seek comment from owners of these warehouses.

Rubio said he “cannot make a conclusion” if the goods stored in the warehouses were hoarded, stressing that the BOC’s authority only extends to whether the sacks of imported rice are paid with the correct duties and taxes.

This comes after Marcos ordered the close monitoring of rice prices in markets and said he “will go after hoarders and price manipulators who take advantage of the lean months before the harvest season,” according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) on Aug. 16.