Senators see connivance in SBMA alleged rice smuggling issue



MANILA, Philippines—Senators believe that there was collusion among officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the Indian rice exporter and the local consignee which led to the unloading of 450,000 sacks of supposedly smuggled rice to the Philippines last April.

In a chance interview following the hearing of the Senate committee of Agriculture and Food on Thursday, Senator Ralph Recto said that so far, the testimonies of the resource persons have confirmed this.

“Maliwanag naman yung sinasabi nila talaga may balak ipuslit yung 420,000 sacks of rice na yan to the domestic market. May sabwatan mula dun sa Indian company, dito sa locator, yung SBMA ang nagpakilala pa at nagsabi sige dalhin ninyo sa Subic, papayagan naming na pumasok sa port of entry at kayo ang magwe-warehouse habang maghahanap kami ng paraan para makakuha ng lisensya mula sa pamahalaan para makapasok sa merkado, yun ang lumabalas sa hearing ngayong araw na ito (It’s clear from what they’re saying that they have a plan to sneak in 420,000 sacks of rice to the domestic market. There’s connivance between the Indian company and the locator. It’s even the SBMA that told them to bring the shipment to Subic, which allowed them to gain port of entry and that they’d be kept in a warehouse while looking for ways to get license from the government to enter the local market. That is what has come out of the hearing today),” Recto said.

During the hearing, Cesar Bulaon, representing Metro Eastern Trading Corp., the consignee of the 420,000 bags of rice equivalent to 21,000 metric tons packed in bags of 50 kilos, said the shipment from an Indian company registered as Amira C Foods International and was a transhipment initially bound for Indonesia. However, the cargo was disallowed to be unloaded in Indonesia after the Indonesian consignee failed to secure an importation permit and was then transported to the Philippines for warehousing, Bulaon said. But he also admitted that they do not have an importation permit to bring in the cargo.

He said that SBMA senior deputy administrator for business Stef Saño approached them regarding the shipment of Indian rice and a certain Vicente “Bong” Cuevas, who he described as a “well-connected broker,” was the one who introduced Bulaon to Protik Guha who he said was the CEO of Amira Foods and helped strike the deal between the two companies. Bulaon said that their company agreed to store the rice in the Philippines and that Amira Foods requested that they be assisted in finding local buyers of their shipment.  Bulaon also admitted to having known Saño for some time already but said that it was his first time transacting with Cuevas.

During the hearing, NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo said they did not issue an importation permit to Metro Eastern for the shipment and that no representative from the company had inquired about securing such permit. He added that as per NFA policy they do not issue importation permits after the cargo has arrived. The shipment arrived at the Subic Freeport on April 4, 2012.

“Sa madaling salita, this shipment was intended for the Philippines?” Enrile asked to which Bulaon answered yes.

Bulaon also admitted that it was their first time dealing with the Indian exporter.

Enrile expressed disbelief because it was such a huge shipment and it was unlikely that Amira would be entrusted to a company they are dealing with for the first time.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • rod69

    Matigas tong si stef sano. Maliit lang pero magilas. Akalain nyo panahon pa pala to ni Erap sa SBMA, hindi pa rin natitinag hanggang ngayon. SDA for business pa. Tuloy ang hapi-hapi ika nga. Salamat at nabulgar na, sana’y may kahihinatnan ang imbestigasyon.

  • batoph

     Such inconvenience could have possibly been avoided if the importation had been done thru Port Irene

  • Ding

    hayyy nako,,, mukhang mabubulok nalang yang bigas na yan sa kakaimbistiga. ipamigay na yan sa mga walang makain!!!

  • MonMayuga

    Aha! Hanggang ngayon ba ay may uniiral pang ganito? Kailan kaya mauubos ang mga taong ito?

  • Jon

    Kasalanan pa rin ni Gloria ito.
    Di ba Budoy? 

    • dgboy

       Hindi, kasalanan mo

  • Philip Machika

    o yong mga inappoint dyan ni simeon sa sbma humanda na kayo…meron kayang “heads will roll” dun sa sbma?


    my goodness sake who else could have the temerity to import that humongous volume of rice simply people in the BOC after that when all the news have died down with a simple exchange of money under the table with sharing divided with the top level of BOC down to the minions of BOC personnel the contraband of rice will be release in silence without media knowing or reporting this quick release by the BOC approval when huge sum of grease money has already been paid to BOC!!!   

  • aldhins

    Ipamigay na lang sa mga  kababayan natin  na ultimo pang bili ng bigas wala sila kaysa nabubulok sa mga warehouse ng NFA ang Smuggling talamak yan sa ating bansa  punta ka ng divisoria makikita mo mga prodokto na  nakaka pasok ating bansa di naman dumaan sa legal na paraan  ang lumalabas na talo dito ang govt. instead nag babayad sila ng tax sa pamahalaan sa bulsa ng iilan  napupunta dapat talaga  mabilis ang action ng govt.

  • otoling

    Sigeeeeee na!  Meron bang makukulong. Sino amg mga gagooo mga ito na malalakas ang loob dahilk meron mga kasangga sa gobyerno.

    Mga bata ba nila Payumo, ni Governor ng Bataan o a big guy from Manila?

  • noypisiTED

    So let the “daang matuwid axe” fall on those who are involved in this rice smuggling. It’s a crime against the economic interest of the nation and local farmers. Let our government authorities investigate past similar importations and who authorized them and who are in cahoots with whom. Just when PNoy announced during his 2012 State of the Nation Address that our country is nearing rice self-sufficiency and is gearing to export local rice variety next year that this mind-boggling smuggling exploded in the face of the president and his BOC officials. Kudos to Commissioner Biazon and the indefatigable no nonsense Danny Lim. It’s time the BOC sharpens its teeth on these smuggling activities. The Filipino people especially our sunburned farmers could not wait to see heads rolling to those behind this latest economic crime.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos