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Smuggling raps filed against execs of rice import firm

Dock workers unload part of the 2,160 bags of Vietnamese rice on Thursday at the Eva Macapagal Port in Pier 15 in Manila. The shipment is part of the 500,000 metric tons scheduled for importation from Vietnam that will add to the country's stockpile.  (MNS photo)

Dock workers unload part of the 2,160 bags of Vietnamese rice on Thursday at the Eva Macapagal Port in Pier 15 in Manila. The shipment is part of the 500,000 metric tons scheduled for importation from Vietnam that will add to the country’s stockpile. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Bureau of Customs on Friday filed a a criminal complaint against 2013’s alleged third biggest rice-smuggling firm in the country that is connected to big-time smuggler David Tan.

In an interview in Manila, Customs Commissioner John “Sunny” Sevilla said charges were filed against owners, directors, and brokers of Starcraft for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

According to Sevilla, Starcraft has smuggled more than 45,000 tons of rice in 2013, equivalent to an output from 113,000 farmers.

“So malaki ang na apektuhan ng smuggling activities ng company na Starcraft,” Sevilla said.

He said Starcraft used to secure an import permit from the National Food Authority for an importation quota of 1,600 tons.

“Ang ibang rice smugglers never applied for an import permit in the first place. Basta dumeretso na lang sila. Ang Starcraft ay nag apply siya sa umpisa sa NFA… Ibig sabhin perfectly aware ang company na ito na may requirement na ganito kasi sumunod siya noon,” he said.

The BOC had prevented the release of imported rice shipments connected to Tan and shipped from Thailand and Singapore in late 2013.

Rice traders who purchased the rice shipments eventually sought and secured a preliminary injunction issued by Judge Emmanuel Carpio of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Davao City on Dec. 12, 2013.

“So ngayon we are fighting back… Sana ay mapabilis ang pag-investigate sa DOJ,” said Sevilla on Friday.

Sevilla said the rice shipments seized in 2013 had already been auctioned off for more than P1 billion. Ninety percent of the rice shipments came from consignees related to David Tan.

Apart from Startcraft, other companies connected to Tan are Bold Bidder, Silent Royalty, Intercontinental Grains and Medaglia de Oro.

The BOC had already filed charges against Bold Bidder on October 2.

On October 31, another set of charges were lodged against Intercontinetal Grain.

Earlier in November, Medaglia de Oro was also sued for rice smuggling.

Businessman David Bangayan had repeatedly claimed he is not David Tan, but documents submitted to the DOJ about a libel case he filed in 2005, showed that he also used the alias David Tan.

The Senate, which at the time was investigating rice smuggling, ended up filing a perjury complaint against him, which the DOJ eventually recommended for filing in court. (MNS)

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