Who’s telling truth on Indian rice cargo?By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate committee on agriculture has ordered the top Indian executive of the company that shipped P450-million worth of rice to the country to show cause why he shouldn’t be cited for contempt after he told the inquiry that the bags of rice were unloaded in Subic only for transshipment, not for domestic sale in the Philippines.
But Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon rebuffed Protik Guha, chief executive officer of Amirah Foods International, when he told the Senate panel that Amirah had indicated to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that it had successfully negotiated with National Food Authority-licensed rice importers for the sale of its rice shipment in the Philippines.
Biazon said the information was part of Amirah’s submission to the BOC in connection with the forfeiture proceedings against the seized rice.
“We do not want people to be lying to us here, whoever you are,” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said after he heard Biazon’s testimony, which included information on how the shipment would have been trucked to areas in Manila and provinces south of the capital.
Sen. Ralph Recto, chair of the Senate committee on ways and means, later moved that other witnesses with conflicting testimonies be ordered to show cause as well why they shouldn’t be cited for contempt.
“Clearly there are conflicting testimonies on the same set of facts or on the same set of considerations,” he said.
“What are we going to do here? Somebody is lying and precisely that is a basis to cite anyone for contempt,” said Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chair of the committee on agriculture.
“They can also be charged with perjury. Somebody is committing a crime before the Senate,” Pangilinan told reporters after the Senate hearing.
Also included in the show cause order were Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) deputy administrator for business and investments Stefani Sano, SBMA locator Vicente Cuevas, Metro Eastern Trading Corp. vice president Cesar Bulaon and witness Cesar Ramirez.
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