By Bianca Cuaresma, December 26 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Department of Finance (DOF) is pressing the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to turnover some 30,000 bags of suspected smuggled rice seized recently in Zamboanga to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, saying that the turnover of the so-called undocumented rice will boost the government’s anti-poverty and disaster-relief programs, ordered BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to release the staple.

The shipment was intercepted by the BOC after being tagged in Zamboanga City as undocumented imported rice.

“Donate that to the DSWD. They can use that,” Dominguez told Guerrero, who attended his first Executive Committee meeting at the DOF on November 5.

According to the finance chief, such “government-to-government transfers in emergency situations can be legally fast-tracked” as in the case of the BOC release of the seized food stocks to the DSWD for disaster relief.

Under Chapter 10, Section 1141 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, goods under BOC custody that are up for disposal “may be donated to another government agency or declared for official use by the bureau, after approval of the secretary of finance, or sold at a public auction within 30 days after a 10-day notice posted at a public place at the port where the goods are located and published electronically or in a newspaper of general circulation.”

As such, the BOC has been donating undocumented goods to the DSWD for anti-poverty and disaster- relief programs.

In particular, the 30,000 bags of rice for donation to the DSWD are on top of the 16,000 bags earlier turned over by the BOC under then-Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to the department to augment disaster-relief efforts for typhoon victims.

Also, about 9,000 bags of rice seized in the Port of Cebu were turned over by the BOC to the DSWD on September 14.

Another 6,921 bags in the Port of Zamboanga and 748 bags in the custody of the bureau’s Enforcement and Security Service were also donated to the DSWD on September 19 and 24, respectively.

According to a BOC report to Dominguez, the bureau will also donate used clothing of various volumes seized from the ports of San Fernando in La Union, Manila, MICP, Legazpi City, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Subic.