Press Release
July 20, 2015

Villar urges NFA to use G2G scheme to ease rice smuggling

To solve the recurring problem of rice smuggling, Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to reconsider the implementation of government-to-government (G2G) scheme as the only mode of importing rice.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, disclosed that in 2013, during the height of the Senate investigation on alleged rice smuggler David Bangayan, the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs then under Comm. John Philip Sevilla, agreed to use the G2G scheme and succeeded in bringing down the case of smuggling in the country.

"During our hearing on Bangayan, one of the things we uncovered was the purchase of importation permits allocated to farmer cooperatives by big traders. This is how unscrupulous traders outwit authorities in carrying out smuggling," Villar said.

"By stopping the issuance of import permits to other parties, they were able to simplify the process because any rice shipment entering our ports and not handled by government was immediately seized and deemed smuggled," she added.

Under the G2G scheme, private traders are no longer given the permit to import rice. NFA imports rice through direct purchase from a foreign government, in this case, Vietnam and Thailand.

Villar also said that during a dialogue with NFA Adm. Renan Dalisay, he explained that they had to honor international commitments that's why they resumed the issuance of permits to private importers.

"What was overlooked in this policy is the fact that other countries don't have a smuggling problem and it is easy for them to deal with private traders, unlike the Philippine situation where smugglers are getting more and more creative in smuggling goods into the country," she said.

Villar, concurrent chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization, related the case in Zamboanga where rice shipments contained in a big ship anchored in Sulu Sea enter the country piece by piece through small motor boats.

"Smuggling impairs government projection on rice supply. This could be one of the reasons why there appears to be an over importation of rice," Villar stressed.

Villar noted that in 2014 alone, the country produced 12.150 million MT of rice and imported about 1.7 million MT. Considering the demand and the needed buffer stock, there was an excess of about 900,000 MT.

"Rice businessmen are now complaining, ang dami pang bigas sa warehouse bakit nag-iimport pa? We have proven that about 600,000 MT of rice was smuggled in 2014, it appears na ganyan din ang kaso ngayong 2015. We need a policy decision to address smuggling," Villar pointed out.

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