Warehouses to get 7 days to present rice import permits

Helen Flores, Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Warehouses to get 7 days to present rice import permits
Retail store attendant arrange sacks of rice at storage in Marikina city (September 21, 2022).
STAR / Walter Bollozos

GENERAL TRIAS, Cavite, Philippines — President Marcos wants to shorten from 15 days to only seven days the period given to owners of raided rice warehouses to submit documents proving the legality of their importation.

In remarks during the distribution of confiscated smuggled rice to 1,200 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps at the General Trias Sports Park yesterday, Marcos explained it took time to transfer the confiscated rice from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development due to a provision under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act which gives suspected smugglers 15 days to appeal the seizure of their stock.

Marcos concurrently heads the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Under Section 114 of the CMTA, “Any party adversely affected by a decision or omission of the Bureau pertaining to an importation, exportation or any other legal claim shall have the right to appeal within 15 days from receipt of the questioned decision or order.”

“We have to wait because before we seize items, the importer needs to prove within 15 days that the importation is legal. So it takes a while because we have to wait for 15 days,” he said in Filipino.

The sacks of 25-kilogram rice are part of the 42,180 sacks of smuggled rice recently confiscated by the BOC-Port of Zamboanga.

The sacks of seized smuggled rice were eventually donated to DSWD after the importers failed to present legal documents for the shipment.

“Now we are trying to reduce the 15 days into seven days, because if you’re a legal importer, all documents are with you. If (authorities) asked for it, you can give it right away,” Marcos said.

“I said something might happen to those (smuggled) rice. So I told them to do everything possible so the government can secure them, the BOC can seize them,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmgate price of fresh palay remains low at P16 to P18 per kilo as the National Food Authority has yet to issue the guidelines for the P23 per kilo buying price of NFA, farmers’ group Federation of Free Farmers national chairman Raul Montemayor said yesterday.

In an interview with The STAR, Montemayor questioned the delay in the release of guidelines for the implementation of the new buying price of NFA.

“The NFA has yet to issue the new guidelines on the P23, the farmers are waiting. The formulation of guidelines is not that difficult as the NFA has existing tables on the P19 (buying price of palay), they just need to adjust them to P23 (per kilo),” Montemayor added.

At the same time, Montemayor said the NFA should beef up the buying of palay in areas where there is surplus production to influence the buying price of commercial traders.

“It is in these areas where there is drop in the farmgate price of palay, like in Central Luzon, Isabela and Mindoro. They should focus on areas where the buying price is below P23. They don’t have to buy everything as they cannot afford it,” he added.

Montemayor said that the country will have at least 65 days’ buffer stock of rice at the end of the year with the expected increase in local palay production.

On the other hand, Montemayor said the economic team is waiting for the recess of Congress on Sept. 30 to implement the tariff cuts on imported rice.

“They are waiting for the recess of Congress on Sept. 30 to release the tariff cut, as if Congress is in session, they need the approval of the lawmakers. The power of the President to change the tariff is the power delegated by Congress when there is no session,” he pointed out.

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