PBBM slams rice smugglers

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. / File Photo

There is no room for illegally imported rice in the Philippines as the government aims to boost the rice buffer stock at National Food Authority storage facilities, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday.

Marcos made the statement in his speech as he oversaw the distribution of confiscated smuggled premium quality rice worth 1,500 sacks to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries in Zamboanga City.

The distributed rice was a portion of the 42,180 smuggled rice sacks worth P42 million seized by officials on 15 September 2023, during a warehouse search in Barangay San Jose Gusu in that city.

Marcos said that the government officials seized the illegally imported rice because the warehouse manager could not identify the source of the items and the location of the tax and tariff payments.

“These are the ones that were apprehended, these are the ones who recently purchased NFA during this season. So, as you can see, we will fill up this warehouse, and we will increase it. We will make the buffer stock larger to somewhat mitigate the price increases,” Marcos Jr. said.

Marcos then assured the public that the government is committed to ending the smuggling, which he said affected the agricultural sector in the country.

He added that the government also needs to enforce its laws on rice supply throughout the Philippines.

“We need to tighten surveillance on illegally imported smuggled rice… and with our counterparts in the (Bureau of) Customs, do not allow any smuggled rice to enter,” he added.

In another event, Marcos lambasted the smugglers for making enormous profits while common Filipinos were suffering.

“It’s not right that they are allowing the entry, withholding the supply, and raising prices. People are suffering just so they can make a large profit,” Marcos said as he oversaw another distribution of rice in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay.

He mentioned that the government followed due process by giving the respondents a 15-day warning before seizing the contraband. Still, the smugglers were not able to do so.

Hence, Marcos said the government seized the goods for donation to the 4Ps beneficiaries.

Furthermore, Marcos offered reassurances to the recipients, affirming that the government is exerting significant efforts to eliminate smuggling. He added that the problem has adversely affected the nation’s agricultural sector.

“We need to ensure enough food supply for our fellow countrymen. This includes strengthening our agricultural system. However, the problem in agriculture in the Philippines isn’t just about fixing the agricultural sector; one of the significant issues is the smuggling of rice into the Philippines,” Marcos said.

“It’s not just about improving the agricultural sector. We also need to reinforce our enforcement of laws regarding the supply of rice across the entire Philippines,” he added.

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