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House panel to probe alleged food smuggling via Subic

THE House committee on ways and means said it will investigate the alleged smuggling of pork, dressed chicken, and beef via the Port of Subic with charges levied on containers reportedly a fraction of the correct amounts, the committee’s chairman said.

Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said in a statement: “We are now in possession of credible information that the Subic port undercharges tariffs per container van by just as much as 1/8th of the actual tariff due, or in peso terms, some P100,000 per container van of imported meat instead of P800,000.”

 Mr. Salceda cited a statement from Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Rolen C. Paulino that smuggling in Subic is “not an issue nor a concern to the management.”

“We have strict policies that are implemented in close collaboration with the Bureau of Customs and we’re proud to say that we have apprehended any and all attempts that have intended to use Subic port as their receiving port, in particular with agricultural products, following the mandate of the President who is also the country’s agriculture secretary,” Mr. Salceda quoted the SBMA as saying.

Mr. Paulino also said that the agency “(remains) nonchalant because we know we can apprehend them yet always on our toes with the smuggling attempts using our port because the SBMA and the BoC will never allow such misdeeds to happen.”

Mr. Salceda called the response of the SBMA an instance of “institutional inertia that breeds corruption and kills local Philippine industries.”

“We are prepared to name names at the proper time. For now, we will protect our sources,” Mr. Salceda added.

The SBMA did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Mr. Salceda said that he will propose recommendations to the impending rules and regulations of the Presidential Decree No. 1612 or the Anti-Fencing Law. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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