Amid spread of ‘fake rice,’ S. Mindanao not PH smuggling hub—NFA | Inquirer Business

Amid spread of ‘fake rice,’ S. Mindanao not PH smuggling hub—NFA

DIGOS CITY – An official of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Southern Mindanao has downplayed claims the supposed proliferation of “fake rice” in Davao City made it the country’s new smuggling capital.

Diane Silva, NFA director for the region, said it had not even been proven yet that the so-called fake rice entered the country through the city’s port.

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Even then, she said it should not be directly linked to the supposed smuggling hub theory.

“The suspected fake rice is another story,” Silva said.

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Remelyn Recoter, director of the Department of Agriculture in Southern Mindanao, agreed with Silva’s view.

She said while the sample sent to and tested at the Food Development Center in Manila was taken from Davao City, it could not be immediately said that the fake rice made it through the city’s port in Sasa.

“We don’t know how it came in yet,” Recoter said.

Earlier, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) said the discovery of the fake rice in Davao City indicated that it has become the country’s new smuggling capital.

Sinag, the umbrella group of farmers, agri-business operators and party-list groups, said smugglers were undeterred because there had been no arrest and prosecution there.

“Perhaps we have to ask Mayor (Rodrigo) Duterte why smugglers are apparently not deterred by his threats against them,” Sinag chair Rosendo So said, adding that they also got information alleged rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan had resurrected his business in Davao City.

READ: Duterte to make smugglers eat their fake rice

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“In fact, they are bolder now and bringing in this fake rice,” he added.

Duterte has not commented on Sinag’s statement but a top aide of his said So was obviously a lapdog for some politician.

“His is a politically-tainted commentary and was obviously done to put the mayor in a bad light,” the aide, who declined anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the issue, said.

The aide also said the Bureau of Customs in Davao City should be made to answer So’s charges that the city has become the new smuggling capital.

The Inquirer has tried but failed to seek comment from Customs officials in Davao City as they were allegedly in a meeting.

In a statement, FDC director Jocelyn Sales said they were conducting further tests on the fake rice sample taken from Davao City for heavy metals.

Sales said they found that the sample had dibutyl phthalate, a plastic softener, and it is not food grade.

“The samples are also being tested for heavy metals – cadmium, lead, mercury – to determine toxicity,” Sales said.

READ: Tips to avoid buying fake rice

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the chemical found in the alleged fake rice was not poisonous but it could be harmful to humans.

“If ingested daily for at least three months, the fake rice may cause harm. This is because the contaminant is a non-food grade substance,” he said.

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TAGS: Department of Agriculture, fake rice, National Food Authority, Smuggling
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