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Piñol: Rice trading center meant to end smuggling


Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol yesterday said that his proposal to create a Tawi-Tawi Rice Trading Center was meant to end rice smuggling and not legalize it.

Piñol made this clarification in the wake of reports that he was allegedly supporting the legalization of rice smuggling.

In an open letter to Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Office, Piñol put to task a reporter of the government-run PTV-4 for causing further misunderstanding and confusion on his proposal.

Piñol said the reporter asked President Duterte whether or not he approves Piñol’s proposal to “legalize rice smuggling.”

“Of course, when asked whether he would allow the entry of smuggled rice to address the rice crisis, President Duterte was right when he said, ‘No, he won’t allow it’,” Piñol wrote.

Piñol said the reporter posed a wrongly premised question.

Under his proposal, every sack of rice brought in through the trading center will be charged with the corresponding tariffs roughly estimated to be between R1 billion to R2 billion every year.

“It will ensure steady supply of legally imported rice for the people of Zambasulta area until such time the Department of Agriculture and LGUs have fully revived the rice farming industry in the islands and in Zamboanga City,” Piñol said.

Piñol proposed that the volume of rice allowed to be brought to the center should not exceed the total consumption requirements per capita of the Zambasulta area.

He said if the rice shipped through the proposed center is covered with import permits, charged with appropriate tariffs and duties and covered with quarantine and sanitary clearances, it now becomes a legitimate rice importation.