SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. alerted the government against profiteers who may hike rice prices due to scare brought about by the alleged proliferation of fake rice.
Marcos, member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, warned that crooked rice traders may hoard rice supplies and create an artificial shortage to push up retail prices.
“This situation is not improbable and it has happened before in different situations. Given the creativeness of some dishonest rice traders who defraud the consumers to make money, the possibility of hoarding is not far-fetched,” he said.
He warned that once rice supplies are withheld in warehouses and a fake shortage is created, devious rice dealers and traders will be able to jack up rice prices at retail outlets.
He said the government should be one step ahead of these scammers and protect consumers.
“Government authorities should constantly monitor the supplies and prices of rice in the market and nip in the bud any attempt to exploit the situation,” he said.
On Tuesday, the National Food Authority and Bureau of Customs in joint operations seized 200 bags of smuggled rice from China being sold in three business establishments in Manila.
NFA Administrator Renan B. Dalisay and BOC Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno led the teams in the surprise inspection of these establishments suspected to be selling smuggled rice from China.
Criminal Investigation Detention Group - NCR Task Force Pantalan, headed by Senior Superintendent Joel Napoleon Coronel, also assisted the group during the inspection.
NFA said two supermarkets, Hua Chong Mart and Mandarin Supermarket in Binondo, Manila and Forwarders Food Mart and Grocery in Sta. Cruz, Manila were found to be selling smuggled rice from China.
“NFA has not issued any permits for the importation of rice from China,” Dalisay said, adding the inspection teams confiscated a total of 9 bags of 25 kg, 105 bags of 10 kg, 50 bags of 5 kg and 18 packs of 2 kg rice from the three establishments.
He said aside from selling smuggled rice, the two establishments in Ongpin were selling rice without the necessary permit from the NFA while the establishment in Arranque Market is operating with expired license.
NFA has summoned the apprehended business establishments for violations under PD No. 4 and NFA Revised Rules on Grains Business and are required to report to the NFA until July 10, 2015 to give their statements.
BOC has seized the smuggled rice from these establishments and shall conduct separate proceedings under the Anti-Smuggling Law.
The confiscated rice is now temporarily stored under the custody of NFA in its Visayas Warehouse in Quezon City because BOC has no available storage space meantime that the case is being heard.