Former Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and several others are facing a graft and economic sabotage complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged rice smuggling in Cagayan de Oro City in March this year
Sen. Panfilo Lacson filed the complaint on Thursday.
The other respondents are National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino; Tomas Alcid, former district collector, BoC, Port of Cagayan de Oro; and Geniefelle Lagmay, then-Customs liaison officer to the NFA of the Office of the Commissioner, BoC.
Also named as respondents are then-directors and/or then-officers of Cebu Lite Trading Inc. (CLTI): Filomena Lim, Lucio Roger Lim Jr., Rowena Lim, Joselito Lopez, Josephine Rizalde and Ambrosio Ursal Jr.
“The importations of the Vietnamese white rice were made without the required import permits from the NFA,” Lacson alleged in part in the complaint.
“Despite respondents’ knowledge of the lack of any import permit for the two  subject rice shipments by CLTI, they nonetheless allowed their entry at the Port of Cagayan de Oro, and caused the unlawful release of these rice shipments from the BoC,” he said.
Lacson also alleged that Faeldon “allowed the release of these rice shipments by interposing ‘no objection’ to their release resulting [in]the continuous processing thereof of the same.”
Also according to the complaint, Aquino allegedly issued import permits in favor of CLTI “contrary to the prescribed rules, and beyond his authority.”
Lacson alleged that Aquino gave CLTI undue favor “when he specifically stated in his certification and confirmation that the validity of the import entries will retroact from the time of the arrival of the shipment. It must be emphasized that there is no law or NFA rule and regulation granting the [NFA] administrator the authority to issue permits with retroactive effect.”
The complaint involved a shipment of 21,800 bags of Vietnamese long grain white rice valued at $370,600 on March 9 and another shipment of 18,200 bags of the same rice valued at $309,400 on March 16.
“The goods smuggled, with their corresponding values, are sufficient to qualify said smuggling as economic sabotage under [Republic Act] 10845,” Lacson said in the complaint.
Republic Act 10845 is the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.
“A computation of the values of the subject rice shipments, based on the amounts and exchange rate appearing on their respective Single Administrative Document (SAD), shows that the total value of each shipment is more than the threshold of P10,000,000.00 which qualifies that smuggling as economic sabotage,” Lacson said.
Aquino, Alcid and Lagmay were also accused of grave misconduct in the complaint.