NFA gave ‘legal cover’ to rice smugglers

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Militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Sunday revealed that a trading company linked to Davidson Bangayan is included in the list of rice importers accredited by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA).

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Bangayan is alleged to be the same person as David Tan, tagged as the “goliath” of rice smuggling in the country.

The KMP furnished the media with a document submitted by the NFA to the House of Representatives during the budget deliberations last year, which states the “status of the Importation of Well-Milled Rice under the Country Specific Quota (CSQ) of 163,000 metric tons for the Year 2013 which is undertaken by the private sector and Farmers Organization.”

The two-page document signed by NFA administrator Orlan Calayag states: “As of September 3, 2013, we [NFA] were able to issue import permits to five entities out of 31 applicant importers.”

On top of Calayag’s list is Starcraft International Trading Corp., which is allegedly owned by Bangayan. Also included are San Miguel MPC, Bold Bidder Marketing and General Mdse., Inter-Continental Grains International Trading Inc., and Kwin Rice Trading.

During the Senate committee on agriculture’s hearing last Wednesday, it was alleged that Bangayan is connected with Starcraft.

In the same hearing, Bold Bidder Marketing was cited by a customs official for acquiring an injunction order from a court in Lemery, Batangas even before the shipment ordered by the company arrived.

The KMP said, “The whole time in this noise on rice smuggling, the Aquino government, DA secretary Proceso Alcala and NFA’s Calayag made it appear that these rice smugglers operate underground when, in fact, they are the ones who granted import permits.”

“The NFA couldn’t have issued import permits to Starcraft and other rice importers if they do not know who’s behind the applicant importers,” said KMP deputy Secretary General Willy Marbella.

“Alcala and Calayag’s political role-playing is over. Calayag’s list shows that all along the NFA and the DA knows the identity of rice smugglers because they are the ones who provided legal cover for them,” he stressed.

The KMP also explained that the current rice trade liberalization policy implemented by the Aquino government has turned the Philippines into a dumping ground of imported rice.

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