• Customs files charges against rice importers

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    A smuggling case was filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) against officials of a trading company for allegedly importing rice without the necessary permit from the National Food Authority (NFA).

    Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla on Friday said charged were eight officials of Intercontinental Grains International Trading Inc. after they failed to comply with the law in an obvious and deliberate manner.

    “The fact that Intercontinental Grains did not bother to file a permit with the NFA and ignored the quota it was allotted signifies bad faith and a gross disregard for our laws,” Sevilla added.

    The complaint stemmed from the firm’s illegal importation of more than 5,400 metric tons or more than 5.4 million kilograms of rice from September to October 2013, with a total dutiable value of P76.9 million and an estimated market value of P217 million.

    “These import volumes are regulated to ensure fair trade and an even playing field for our local rice industry, which firms like Intercontinental Grains ignored to the detriment of our farmers,” Sevilla said.

    Under the law, he noted, only the NFA could import rice, while private entities that wish to import must first secure a permit from the agency.

    As a result, the  eight officials of Intercontinental Grains are facing multiple counts of violating the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines  and Section 29 of Presidential Decree 4, as amended by PD  1485, which carries 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of P50,000.

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