August 13, 2012
KIKO: RICE IMPORT WITHOUT NFA PERMIT IS CLEARLY CONTRABAND
On its second hearing on the Senate investigation on rice smuggling, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, expressed his belief that officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority are making excuses in trying to explain why a shipment of rice worth half a billion pesos was allowed entry and were unloaded off their docks.
"It boggles the mind that those entrusted with closely guarding our ports are not aware of which goods are prohibited from entering the country. When that much rice enters any of our ports, it should automatically raise signals for our officials to be cautious in having them enter the country. This case is extremely disturbing. There were no permits nor pertinent documents presented, yet these goods were allowed not only entry in our docks, but were also allowed to be unloaded without the necessary permits."
"Is it too difficult for SBMA officials to know rice import procedures from the NFA? Is it not standard procedure for SBMA to coordinate with concerned government agencies whenever questionable goods enter our country? Four hundred twenty thousand sacks of rice are not exactly mere blimps in their radar."
During the hearing, it was bared that the controversial shipment of rice seized by the Bureau of Customs had no documents supporting claims that it first entered the ports of Jakarta before being diverted to the Philippines.
"Galing na mismo sa chairman ng SBMA na si administrator Roberto Garcia na ang destinasyon ng mga bigas na ito ay ang Pilipinas at wala nang iba pang bansa. Malinaw na may balak ibenta ito sa ating merkado. Kawawa naman ang mahihirap nating mga magsasaka. Kayod sila nang kayod at pagkatapos ay papatayin lang ng smuggling ang kanilang hanapbuhay. Binabagyo na nga tayo at nasisira ang ating mga pananim at sakahan, may smuggling pa. Doble pasakit ito sa ating mga kababayan."
The lawmaker stressed, "Layon natin na tanggalan ng maskara ang mga smugglers na ito upang sila ay maparusahan. Kailangan nating ipakita sa taumbayan na tayo ay seryoso sa pagpuksa ng ganitong tiwali at mapansamantalang gawain. Ang smuggling ay isang krimen. At lahat ng kriminal ay dapat maparusahan, lalung-lalo na dahil ang kapalit nito ay kagutuman para sa marami nating mga mamamayan."
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