Besides three million bags of imported rice in the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses that are destined to be consumed in region 7 Visayas within the next 65 days there are currently around 900 shipping containers stuck at the Cebu International Port. They have been shipped in from Vietnam but currently are not released due to a “lack of proper documentation”.
Bunabon, who is assigned to NFA-Bicol, confirmed the rice at CIP is consigned to the NFA for an account of a “private group”. Under the private sector finance rice importation program. Although he has no details of why the rice at CIP was not released by the Bureau Of Customs (BOC).
The importation was actually done in June. Although a source at BOC has said the release of the shipment was delayed in abeyance of new NFA leadership under instruction of President Benigno Aquino III. The reason behind the stoppage is to do with reviewing the scheme as the new presidential administration and Lito Banayo (NFA administrator) want to know why the NFA pays millions of duties and taxes to the BOC when its private individuals who finance the rice importation under the NFA and its the individuals who profit.
Ronnie Silvestre of BOC Port of Cebu district collections said based on the reports he received the processor of the customs broker who was dealing with the release ran off with the P2million processing fees. Which actually made getting the rice processed worse and delayed the documentation.
With an estimated 500 bags per 20ft container and 450,000 bags currently stock at the docks if sold at even P1,000 per bag there is over P450million sat on the docks.
Custom records also show that in July before the order to hold rice imports a shipment came out with 811 container vans of imported rice from Vietnam consigned to the NFA under the same individuals.
A further twist to the story is that Silvestre has ordered the Encoding and Processing Unit (EPU) to explain why they reported there are no pending rice shipments when there are currently 900 containers sat at Cebu Port. Maybe they miscounted you wouldn’t really notice 900 container vans in a port area would you?
The EPU chief did respond though that there is no record of the shipment because the NFA and private group haven’t filed the mandatory import entry documents. Which if true under the tariff and customs code a shipment without import entry documentation can be automatically seized by the BOC after 30 days.
Silvestre, a lawyer, said he will determine whether the shipment should be issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention..