MANILA, Philippines – A team of government officials led by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas uncovered a “new modus” by rice hoarders: mixing imported rice from Thailand with rice intended for animals feeds, and passing it off as premium rice.
The modus was unveiled to media during the inspection of the Purefeeds Corporation warehouse in Bulacan on Monday, July 7. Purefeeds owner, a certain Jomerito Soliman, will face charges for violating the country’s trade laws, said Roxas.
Roxas inspected the warehouse alongside officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation Group (CIDG), Bureau of Internal Revenue, National Food Authority, the Bureau of Customs, and Bulacan.
Chasing after hoarders
“The broken rice residue intended for animal feeds came from Vietnam and was being mixed with the Blue Diamond rice imported from Thailand, and then repacked and being sold as “Golden Bee” Premium Sinandomeng rice,” said Roxas in a statement.
Irregularities at the Purefeeds warehouse was discovered by the CIDG, the group first announced in a Sunday, July 6, statement. Police found 32,500 bags of imported commercial rice without the proper documents. Purefeeds, it turned out, was not authorized to sell rice commercially.
Roxas earlier ordered the PNP to help government agencies in investigating and filing cases against groups and individuals suspected to be behind the artificial price increase of essential commodities. Thus far, the CIDG has inspected 18 warehouses.
Over 80,000 bags of rice stacked in those warehouses were found to be in violation of anti-hoarding laws.
Malacanang, meanwhile, defended Roxas’ presence in the inspection of warehouses. Asked why Roxas was “appointed as member of the raiding team,” presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda said the raids were done in coordination with the PNP, which is under the DILG.
“[Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agriculture] Secretary [Francis] Pangilinan and [Roxas] discussed the manner of…the strategy of ensuring that no hoarders escape,” said Lacierda.
When a reporter commented that it was the first time a DILG secretary led a raid, Lacierda quipped, “That’s the reason why, for the first time, you see hoarders being arrested.”
Roxas is the ruling Liberal Party’s president-on-leave, and is assumed to be its standard-bearer for the 2016 presidential elections.
“Hindi natin papayagang umiral ang panloloko ng mga negosyante sa ating mga kababayan. Hindi natin sila tatantanan at hindi natin papayagan na makakain ng ganito ang ating mga mamamayan,” said Roxas, referring to the mix of imported rice and animal feeds.
(We won’t let businessmen take advantage of consumers. We won’t let them get away with it, and we won’t allow consumers to consume this kind of rice) – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com