Group mulls case vs NFA for using HCPTI as 'transhipment hub'
Dennis Carcamo (Philstar.com) - October 1, 2015 - 9:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — A consumers' welfare group is considering to sue the National Food Authority for using the Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) as a "transhipment point" for rice.

"We are not convinced with the explanation of the NFA. It is illegal under the law to use a private facility as a transit hub. We are thinking of bringing the case to the Ombudsman.What NFA is doing is economic sabotage," Bency Ellorin, spokesperson for the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC),  said in a statement.

The NCFC also learned that HCPTI is not paying NFA at all for its rice shipments.

Only two ports, the ICTSI and South Harbor Center are allowed by the government as transhipment hubs for rice shipments, the group said.

The group said the NFA should also look into reports on smuggling activities inside the Harbor Center.

Ellorin said that the NFA should furnish members of the media a copy of the permit it issued to HCPTI after reports circulated that rice is stored at the terminal without proper clearance from the rice agency.

He also urged Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, to probe the allegation.

"Senator Villar should ensure that our consumers are protected. For the longest time, we have been receiving information that HCPTI has been keeping tons of NFA rice without accreditation from the NFA,” Ellorin said.

“We are sure that it's not only HCPTI but there are other unscrupulous businessmen who blatantly violate Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, he added.

The group will also seek audience with Villar to push for stricter legislation on hoarding and port smuggling.

The NCFC said it has received reports of warehouses storing rice without a permit from NFA in Marilao town in Bulacan province and Muntinlupa.

"We have to ensure that Filipinos have enough food to eat. We want to arrest the syndicate manipulating prices in the market," the group said.

At the Lower House, Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap is pushing for stiffer penalties for rice or corn hoarders and profiteers.

Yap filed House Bill 4677, which amends the Price Act that states that the acts of rice and corn hoarding and profiteering during calamities or emergencies will be classified as economic sabotage.

Under the measure, an Anti Rice or Corn Hoarding and Profiteering Task Force shall be established in every province, city and municipality to monitor the inventory level of all rice or corn mills, warehouses and stock houses to determine their respective monthly stocks of rice or corn.

ANTI RICE AT THE LOWER HOUSE BENCY ELLORIN CORN HOARDING AND PROFITEERING TASK FORCE CYNTHIA VILLAR ELLORIN HARBOR CENTER HARBOUR CENTER PORT TERMINAL INC NFA PRICE ACT RICE
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