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POLICE SAID IT is continuously working with different government agencies in its campaign against suspected rice hoarders in the country.

“Sa ngayon, we are having close coordination sa DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and DA (Department of Agriculture) and NFA (National Food Authority). Binigay naman natin lahat, continuous monitoring natin sa rice hoarders. Meron na nga order coming from the Office of the President,” said Director General Oscar Albayalde after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police to crackdown on rice hoarding.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said Duterte has actually issued the same order not only to the police, but also to Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año. He said Duterte’s order shows government’s resolve to combat rice hoardings.

Roque insisted there was no rice shortage in the country and said the supply will be sustained with the arrival of additional imported rice this year. He accused some rice traders of creating artificial shortage by resorting to hoarding to jack up the prices of rice.

He said opposition politicians have been using the issues of rice shortage and high prices of commodities against the Duterte administration.

Roque said National Food Authority Council has already allowed private rice dealers to import supply beyond the minimum access volume aimed at stabilizing prices and supply of rice. The Philippines is allowed by the World Trade Organization to import 800,000 metric tons of rice per year.

Just recently, thousands of bags of confiscated rice suspected to have been smuggled from nearby Malaysia had mysteriously disappeared from the custody of the Bureau of Customs in Zamboanga City.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar speaks to Customs District Collector Lyceo Martinez at City Hall. (Photo by Kathy Sit)

And this has forced Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar to again call the attention of Customs District Collector Lyceo Martinez and told him to act and be accountable for the smuggled rice and other items proliferating in Zamboanga.

She said millions of pesos worth of dried sea horses seized in Zamboanga also disappeared from the Bureau of Customs.

“Clearly, there is really an anomalous activity that is preferential towards those that are smuggling. I will never tolerate it,” Salazar said. “Smuggling activities must be stopped in our city, and I’m calling on his (Martinez) authority to act and be accountable for the smuggled rice.” (With a report from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)


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