CABANATUAN City -- Several hundred bags of imported rice were found stored in warehouses being inspected in some parts in Nueva Ecija while some 34 bags of government rice and several empty sacks bearing the logo of the National Food Authority were seized during a two-day sting conducted by a composite team formed to go against rice traders engaging in the illegal rice trade, hoarding and the illegal rebagging of NFA rice.
The composite raids by the NFA, the National Bureau of Investigation, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the Philippine National Police came as President Duterte ordered on Wednesday that the management and supervision of the NFA be reverted to the Department of Agriculture from the Office of the President.
During the two-day sting, the composite team headed by NFA provincial manager Genoveva V. Villar was able to inspect some 15 warehouses in the towns of Sta. Rosa and San Leonardo and in Gapan City.
In Bgy. Malimba, Gapan City, Villar said they seized 34 bags of NFA rice weighing 1,700 kilos stored at the A.R. Pangan Rice Mill and some 200 empty NFA sacks. A. R. Pangan Rice Mill was given a five-day-grace period to explain why they were in possession of said empty NFA bags.
During last Wednesday’s inspection, which was covered by this reporter, the composite team swooped down on the Mirelli Enterprises Rice Mill in Bgy. La Fuente, Sta. Rosa, where some 126 bags of imported rice were found stored.
However, it was discovered after a subsequent check by the inspection team that the import invoice presented by Mirelli Enterprises which is owned by Greg Maningas was legit.
During the same raid, however, some 458 empty NFA sacks were seized from another warehouse of Mirelli Enterprises.
By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 4 as amended and pursuant to the Revised Rules and Regulations promulgated by the NFA Council, Mirelli Enterprises was asked to explain the unauthorized possession of empty NFA bags, said Arturo Villacorta, a member of the NFA provincial enforcement and investigation section.
Also inspected were five rice mills belonging to Nolasco Baldazo, Rodolfo Evangelista, the Masaganang Sakahan Inc., and CF Aguilar in Bgys. Sta. Teresita, Lourdes and Soledad.
At the two warehouse-compounds of CF Aguilar rice mill in Bgy. Soledad, several hundreds of imported rice from India, Thailand and Vietnam were found by the inspection team.
Its owners said all these were allegedly covered by invoices from importers. “Kumukuha kami sa importer ng P2,150 per bag ng bigas hanggang P2,180,” said Christopher Aguilar.
After Sta. Rosa, three other warehouses in Bgys. Magpapalayok, Diversion and San Anton, were also inspected in San Leonardo, with two of them also having stocks of several bags of imported rice.
A member of the composite inspection team lamented: “Kung iisipin mo mabibili nila ng mura sa ibang bansa ang bigas tapos ire-rebag at maibebenta nila ng mas mahal sa merkado.”