MANILA (Mabuhay) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday detailed the alleged modus operandi of some importers to smuggle rice into the country.
During the Senate agriculture committee investigation on the illegal entry of the staple food into the country, De Lima said some traders misdeclare their shipments to be able smuggle rice.
“Ang deklarado nila, hardware or construction materials. Ang totoo nito, bigas pala,” she said during the congressional probe.
She added that some importers even pad their shipments and “divert” deliveries to other warehouses other than those controlled by the government.
“May pasobra ang karga sa barko. Kung sakaling 10 truckloads ang ide-deliver, lima lang ang ide-deliver sa NFA [National Food Authority] warehouses. The other five, kung sino na ang nakabili ng nasabing bigas, doon dadalhin,” De Lima said.
Another scheme being used by rice smugglers is the so-called “recycling” of entry permits. She said these traders do not give pre-arrival notices to the NFA, allowing them to use their permits over and over again.
“Kapag nahuli sila, noon lang matatakan ang permit,” De Lima said.
The Justice secretary assured the senators present during the hearing that her agency, particularly the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), is running after these rice smugglers.
“I’m here to assure this committee that the NBI is continuing its investigation on the matter. Once we have an airtight case, they will be filing cases before the DOJ for preliminary investigation,” De Lima said. (MNS)