THE Department of Agriculture (DA) admitted on Tuesday that smuggled rice is present in the country because of traders who either have no or recycled import clearances.
In a press conference in Quezon City, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said his department had given the Bureau of Customs (BoC) information on several traders who smuggled tons of the staple. He did not disclose the entities involved and how much rice have been smuggled into the country.
“Marami rin kaming nasabi na [ang] mga dumating na dito na imported na bigas na wala pang import clearance (We have also said much about rice imports that don’t have an import clearance)…” Dar said, adding that those without them resort to recycling old ones.
“When you have no import clearance, that [means the rice] is technically smuggled,” he said.
The agriculture chief was quick to add, though, that his department was closely monitoring the situation for the possible crackdown on rice hoarding and smuggling in the country.
“Mayroon kaming ineembiestigahan ngayon… Mayroon pa ring nagkukuntsyaba, so nakakalusot (We are investigating some smugglers now… There are still those who are in cahoots with them, allowing the imports to pass through), Dar said.
His statement comes after a strike team from the Bureau of Internal Revenue raided unregistered warehouses in Bulacan province and found more than 250,000 sacks of rice from Vietnam and Myanmar.
Latest BoC data showed that the country’s rice imports already reached 2.99 million MT from January to October this year, up 150 percent from the 10 previous years.
The United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services recently reported that the Philippines was projected to become the world’s biggest rice importer this year after importing 3 million MT, surpassing China, which is expected to import 2.5 million MT of the staple this year.