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Latest News Philippines: India aid vs smuggling sought – Journal.com.ph:
THE government is looking at seeking the cooperation of the Indian government to fight rice smuggling in the Philippines, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The move, according to BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, appears to be feasible because both countries have good trade relationships.
“Why not. Our respective customs agencies and law enforcement arms can work together by exchanging intel reports on smuggling,” he said.
Biazon said the BOC is on the look-out for more solutions to curb smuggling in the country.
“We are doing everything that is possible so that we can finally say goodbye to all forms of smuggling,” he said.
The idea to seek cooperation with the Indian government came following the discovery that many of the imported rice being illegally shipped into the country come from India.
Infact, this is the center of Senate inquiry that is uncovering anomalies regarding rice smuggling in the Subic Freeport.
The Senate inquiry started following the series of successful operations of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) led by Commissioner Ruffy Biazon against big time rice smuggling at the Subic Freeport.
The fight against smuggling was a direct order given to Biazon by President Aquino.
Earlier, Malacañang commended Biazon for his performance in bringing reforms in the graft-ridden agency.
In his order, Aquino personally tasked Biazon to dismantle smuggling syndicates responsible in illegally bringing into the country tons of imported rice.
Local rice producers has complained the entry of smuggled rice into the market which is killing their industry.
It can remembered that the BOC seized P42.5 million worth of smuggled rice hidden inside 90 40-footer container vans in Subic Freeport. This was followed by the confiscation of 420,000 sacks of smuggled rice worth P.5 billion at the same port.
Said incidents is the current basis of the Senate inquiry on the alleged anomalies at the Subic Freeport.
The Senate aims to unmask the culprits behind the failed attempt to smuggle rice from India.
In the investigation by the Senate committee on agriculture and food chaired by Sen. Francis ‘Kiko’Pangilinan, Cesar Bulaon, part-owner of Trading Corp. and a locator in SBMA, identified the individuals behind the rice smuggling.
Bulaon admitted before the committee that before the rice arrived from India, he was approached by Stefani Sano, senior deputy administrator for business and investment development of SBMA, to facilitate the entry of the contrabands and keep them at their warehouse while waiting for the permit from the National Food Authority (NFA).
“Ni-recommend po kami (ni Sano) to help the Amira Group… tulungan ang Amira na i-warehouse ang kargamento,” said Bulaon.
When the rice arrived in Subic Bay Freeport on April 4, 2012, the shipper of the rice identified as “Mr. Protik”, CEO of Amira Foods Limited with business address in New Delhi, India, found a way to have the contraband released from SBMA and distributed to the local market.
A broker/fixer with alias “Bong” who boasts of having connections to the higher-ups moved to facilitate the release of the contraband from the warehouse of Metro Eastern.
Bulaon added that a cooperative identified as “San Miguel” was supposed to be used by “Mr. Protik” and his alleged cohorts to get the import permit and make the release of the contraband legal.
Reliable sources said “Mr. Protik” is working for Kishore Hemlani, an Indian trader engaged in rice importation. Hemlani was also reported to have been a business partner of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
Hemlani was able to close a contract with the government for the importation of 595,000 metric tons of rice from India for the first two years of the Arroyo administration.
Meanwhile, Malacañang lauded and supported the probe over the alleged anomaly. The Palace also commended Biazon for doing his job well.
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