NBI, NFA raid warehouses hoarding tons of rice in Iligan City

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ILIGAN CITY (October 3) – The Task Force on Rice Hoarding, composed of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided Tuesday afternoon, three warehouses in Barangay Palao, here for allegedly hoarding thousands of sacks of rice.

The first two warehouses, situated beside each other at the market area is owned by a certain Sonia Payan, who is accordingly based in Cagayan de Oro City.

Lawyer Abdul Jamal Dimaporo, chief of the NBI-Iligan District Office, said they acted on the information they got from a concerned citizen that the said warehouses are full of sacks of rice.  When inspected, the said warehouses were found to be unlicensed.

“Upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to look for the hoarders because of the inflation ng mga prices natin, nakita natin itong dalawang bodega,” Dimaporo said in the interview.

“We talked with the NFA, we joined forces, then checked kung may license sila. May license sila pero para lang sa isang tindahan nila, hindi kasali itong dalawang bodega,” he added.

The NFA has yet to determine the exact volume of the rice but the agency had already estimated it to more or less 20 thousand bags of 25 kilos per bag.

Undeclared

Sambatori Dimaporo, NFA provincial director in Lanao del Norte, said aside from monitoring rice hoarding in the area, the agency is also monitoring of the prices in the market.

“We also monitor sa mga nagpataas ng presyo,” he said.

While Payan has legal documents indicating she has legal rice business, she still has to be sued for violating the related NFA laws.

“Every week we are going around to monitor the NFA-registered rice retailers and distributors but these warehouses are not in our list. These have been undeclared,” the NFA official said.

Chinese caretaker

The owner of the business was not around when the authorities arrived but a Chinese man identified as Yan Jianzhu introduced by the workers as ‘care taker’ of the business.

When asked by reporters for comment, he did not talk because according to the workers he cannot understand any of the dialects, except Mandarin.

Virgilio Guimbo, driver/delivery of Payan’s rice business, said they are not hoarding.

In fact, he said, their business was the rice supplier when parts of Zamboanga Sibugay ran out of rice supply last month.

“These bags of rice just arrived last week from Luzon. We did hoard. This warehouse is open when there are customers who want to buy,” Guimbao said.

“We opened this warehouse every day because we have customers. If the NFA and the NBI will close this down, we will lose our job. We did not know these warehouses were not declared to the NFA. We are only employees here earning for a living,” he added.

Smuggled rice

An hour after the said raid, the Task Force proceeded to another part of Barangay Palao to also verify the information of another rice warehouse, owned by certain Johnny Tan, also a Chinese.

Authorities discovered more or less 30 thousand bags of suspected to be a smuggled rice because the markings on the sacks could tell it came from Malaysia.

“They will repack it to local rice. May mga empty sacks at mga pang-selyo ng sako. May mga sako-sako rin na wala pa’ng label na posibleng iko-convert na into local rice. May sakong walang laman na ang marka ay ‘grand master’ tapos may address na Lala, Lanao del Norte para kunwari galing sa Lala ang mga ito,” Abdul Jamal said.

Tan, however, said he did not know that it is illegal to repack those rice.

Payan and Tan will be facing the same violations of NFA related laws.

The said warehouses were padlocked while the adjudication with the Task Force on Rice Hoarding will be finished. “They will be facing penalties,” Sambitory Dimaporo said. – Divina Suson/ NewsLine

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