The Bureau of Customs raided two warehouses in Las Piñas and Cavite that were suspected of containing smuggled rice.

Customs reported that the warehouses, located in Pulang Lupa, Las Piñas, and Bacoor, Cavite, contained rice products from Vietnam, Thailand, and China, with an estimated value of P40 million.

“Prior to this inspection, an extensive investigation, surveillance, and test purchases were carried out,” the bureau said in a statement on Sunday, Sept. 17.

During the investigation, Customs said it also discovered that the trader was selling a 25-kilo sack of Vietnamese rice for P1,320 in the market, which is equivalent to P52.8 per kilo. 

“This price significantly exceeded the Department of Agriculture's prescribed range of Php41-45 per kilo for well-milled and regular-milled rice,” the agency noted. 

But Customs cited that the warehouse owner claimed to be rice traders rather than importers.

In response, Customs operatives requested the owner to provide proof of payment of the correct duties and taxes from their supplier or importer.

“Authorities granted the owner a 15-day period to submit the necessary documentation to validate the legality of the importation of the subject sacks of rice and payment of correct duties and taxes due thereon,” the bureau said.

The inspection, which took place last Sept. 14, was conducted by the Customs bureau in collaboration with its Intelligence and Investigation Service, Enforcement and Security Service, Port of Manila, Legal Service, and the Philippine Coast Guard. 

Last Sept. 15, the Customs forfeited 42,180 sacks of Alas Jasmine Fragrant rice, valued at P42 million, that were discovered inside a warehouse in Brgy. San Jose Gusu, Zamboanga City. 

The agency said the confiscation was a result of the owners' failure to provide proper import documents. (Gabriell Christel Galang)

Source: Manila Bulletin (