Senator Cynthia Villar call the meeting to order and acknowledge the presence of the various resource persons. Her opening remarks was about the output of the ten (10) public hearings conducted by the Committee during the 16th Congress that reviewed rice smuggling, importation and the involvement of Cooperatives in illegal trade. The major issues are - the failure of the Bureau of Customs to implement the National Single Window;the failure of Department of Justice to file the necessary charges against those found to be involved in illegal rice trade; the non compliance with the government - to - government recommendation in rice importation on the Minimum Access Volume (MAV). NFA was asked to present 2014-2017 Agreement on Quantitative Restriction on Rice. Representative of the NFA, DOJ were advised to update the committee of the status of these recommendations.
She informed the group that the Senate and the House were able to pass the Bill that declares that Agriculture Smuggling of certain products as Economic Sabotage.Similarly, both Houses was able to pass the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fun or ACE. This shall be for small and micro farms. Loans shall be available to them from P1M for individuals and P5 M for cooperatives and organizations who want to go into both farm and non-farm activities, like processing, marketing and production.
The Supreme Court issued a restraining order stopping Regional Trial Courts to issue Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) on apprehended rice without the necessary documents and proof of payment of fees.
That on the rampant smuggling of rice in Zamboanga City where the investigation found out that there are too many ports and landing sites and it is difficult to control and monitor the entry of contraband aside from the issue on corruption.Bureau of Customs and the Phillippine Ports Authority should come up with a system of regulating the same.
The Department of Agriculture through USec Fred Serrano an Asec Ed De Luna presented the current state of rice production in the country. Usec Serrano emphasized the risk of smuggled rice to health and safety of the general public since it will not pass the traceability and the possibility of toxicity is very high since it did not pass the sanitary and phytosanitary inspection.
NFA Administator Dalisay emphasized that the inclusion of the private sector and cooperatives in rice importation was a decision of the NFA Council.