The Department of Agriculture has apprehended two businessmen in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte on Wednesday, October 10, for allegedly hoarding rice.
During an interview with DZRH on Thursday, October 11, DA Sec. Manny Piñol identified the arrested suspects as Filipino – Chinese Sonia Payan, and Taiwanese national Jhonny Tan.
According to Piñol, the inter-agency sub-committee on rice hoarding, cartel, and smuggling raided four warehouses owned by the two rice traders and discovered 40,000 sacks of rice, which weigh about 2,000 metric tons.
The raiding group were composed of operatives from the DA, the National Food Authority (NFA), the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Ports Authority, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Piñol said that the NFA has confiscated the hoarded sacks of rice, which they suspect have been smuggled from other countries.
The agriculture secretary added that NFA Acting Administrator Tomas Escarez reported that the documents of the suspects were inconsistent with their stock inventory and appeared to be spurious or fake.
“What have been established ay itong mga bigas na ito ay inconsistent yung mga dokumento at mukhang pineke and hindi pa ma-establish kung saan galing ito. Malamang ito ay kasama nung mga smuggled rice na dumadaan ng Zamboanga, from Tawi-Tawi,” Piñol said during DZRH’s Damdaming Bayan.
Piñol mentioned that Payan and Tan were the first suspects to be arrested following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to intensify the campaign against rice hoarding and rice cartels.
“Ito ang pinak-unang kaso ng hoarding na nahuli ng ating pinalakas at pinatibay na grupo ng mga ahensya,” Piñol said.
Piñol confirmed that the NFA can sell the 40,000 sacks of confiscated rice at markets in Metro Manila.
Last week, the Task Force on Rice Hoarding summoned Payan and Tan due to the allegations of rice hoarding and smuggling rice from Malaysia following a search at their warehouses in Brgy. Palao, Iligan City.
Operatives found 20,000 bags of rice in the warehouse of Payan, while 30,000 bags of rice were discovered in the warehouse of Tan. Both establishments were not declared and did not have a permit to operate.