BOC denies P1-B rice smuggling in Iloilo

ILOILO CITY — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) denied Friday, Aug. 19, that more than P1-billion worth of smuggled rice from Vietnam entered the Port of Iloilo this month.

BUREAU of Customs (BOC) acting Deputy Collector for Operations Noli Santua Jr. speaks to Iloilo media Friday, Aug. 19. The BOC denies the alleged smuggling of P1-billion worth of rice from Vietnam. (Tara Yap)

“These unfounded allegations intend to malign the good image of the BOC-Port of Iloilo considering that no history of rice smuggling has been recorded at this port,” said acting Deputy Collector for Operations Noli Santua Jr.

Santua presided over a BOC-Port of Iloilo press conference to refute the report that came out hours earlier Friday.

Citing an alleged inside source, the report considered the unloading of a total of 38,400 metric tons (MT) of rice from six different vessels at the Port of Iloilo as “suspicious shipment."

According to Santua, the rice shipment that arrived had proper permits from the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture.

“The alleged smuggled rice shipments on board MV Hai Ha 58, MV HOA BINH 54, and MV Hai Dang 168 were covered with clearances and permits. This is compliance of Republic Act No. 11203 or An Act Liberalizing the Importation, Exportation and Trading of Rice,” added Santua.

With regards to the MV Royal 18 that arrived at the Port of Iloilo last Aug. 14, the Goods Declaration of the rice shipment loaded on board the vessel has been lodged at the Customs electronic system while the vessel is currently at the anchorage area as it awaits berthing space, he said.

Santua told Iloilo media that this is the first time there has been an allegation against the BOC-Iloilo and BOC-Collection District-VI of Iloilo where there has been a good record.

The BOC Collection District VI already exceeded its annual collection target for 2022 as of Aug. 16. Initial data shows that the Port collected a total revenue of P3.2 billion and surpassed this year’s target of P3.1 billion.