Tag Archives: DOJ

DOJ Goes After Hoarders

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Task Force on Anti-Rice Hoarding on Monday filed criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 13 rice traders for allegedly violating Republic Act No. 7581 or The Price Act and other laws that prohibit hoarding and other similar offenses.

DOJ secretary Raul Gonzalez, in an interview, said that he immediately directed the Bureau of Immigrations (BI) to put in its hold-departure the 13 persons to prevent them from leaving the country.

Those charged were identified as Anthony Choi Angeles, Romeo Mariano, Jr., Eleonor Rodriguez, Meynardo Guevarra, Francisco Dio, Arnel Lagonoy, Mary Ann Magno, Geonell Vin Centeno, Delia Barreda, Sofia Guzman, Prestifero Prado, Leonides Manalo and Lydia Supremido.

A preliminary investigation will be conducted by the DOJ Anti-Hoarding Task Force headed by Senior State Prosecutor Roberto Lao to determine whether there is a probable cause to pursue the filing of criminal charges against them before the court.

The rice traders are facing charges of violation of the provisions of RA 7581 which prohibit illegal price manipulation through the commission of hoarding, cornering or hoarding of grain, unauthorized possession of government rice and diversion of government stocks by retailers authorized to sell government stocks, unauthorized re-bagging or re-sacking of government rice in commercial sacks, selling or lending government stocks to another grains businessman, lack of required signboard and lack of guaranty bon and fire insurance.

Gonzalez stressed that the filling of charges against the 13 rice traders only proves the government’s no-nonsense campaign to address the perceived rich shortage problem.

Gonzalez also assures the public that the government is doing all it can to alleviate the rice problem, adding that the country has sufficient rice stocks to last for 57 days.

He added that steps are being made to insure that the country’s rice reserve will be increased in the coming days.

The 13 rice traders may be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years and may be required to pay P2 million fine if convicted.

The DOJ secretary also said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is working very hard to insure that the country will have sufficient rice for all its citizens.

He said the government is now talking with the governments of Thailand and Vietnam in order to get more supply of rice.

The Philippines recently imported some 1.5 million metric tons of rice from Vietnam recently even as the United States promised to supply the country with cheap rice to augment its reserves.

This developed as the Bureau of Customs also lodged with the DOJ five cases involving illegal smuggling of wheat flour, unlawful importation of flour, illegal shipment of onions and falsification of business permit.

BOC Commissioner Napoleon Morales personally filed the complaints before the office of Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno.

The agency filed two cases against the directors and officers Rubills International Inc. for undervaluation, underweight and lack of necessary import permit from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) on their shipments of wheat flour valued approximately at P30. 8 million with corresponding duties and taxes of P2.59 million.

The BOC identified these officers as Francisco Billones, Angel Deray, Mary Lucille Billones, Susana de la Cruz Go, Anacleto Sanchez, Roberto Amposta, Oscar Torres, Maria Catapang Jumento, Rosalio Teves, Leonardo de la Pas, and Hannah Aileen Lim Hernandez and Meynardo Banayo, licensed customs broker.

Another complaint was filed by the BOC involving unlawful importation of sugar consigned to Medardo Banglos which was made to appear as locally produced in order to evade payment of duties and taxes and the required import permit from the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA).

Customs intelligence and agents apprehended the shipment at Port of Manila from Cotabato City on board a Superferry 09 after discovering said shipment of sugars, based on its markings and labels, originated from Thailand.

Said shipment was in violation of Section 3601 in relation to sections 2503 and 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

The fourth case involves the shipment of 6 x 40 containers of onions with an approximate value of P890,249 which was imported without the required import clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry in violation of the provisions of TCCP.

Named respondents in the case are Lilybeth Valenzuela, Mahesh Kumar, Loida Bracamonte, Luzner Caasi, Dranreb Viojan, and Manuel Joey Rex Anito and Diosdao Bagon, the licensed customs broker who processed the subject shipments.

BOC, likewise, filed a criminal complaint  against Gloria Ho De Mesa, Tito Ho De Mesa and Racuel Cruz-Mayuga for having submitted falsified business permit with the customs accreditation secretariat in connection with the application for accreditation of Cleomar Trading Incorporated as importer.

Morales said the filing of the charges is part of the BOC’s crackdown against smugglers of regulated commodities.


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GMA Empowered to Declare Rice Emergency – DOJ

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – President Arroyo may declare rice and corn emergency if the perceived shortage in the country’s rice supply would continue.

In an interview, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters that under Republic Act 3452, which provides measures to stabilize the price of palay, rice and corn, among others, the President is empowered to initiate drastic measures to ensure consumers of continued rice supply.

He said under Section 12 of R.A. 3452, the President is authorized to declare a rice and corn emergency any time she deems it necessary in the public interest.

Under the “rice and corn emergency”, the government can control all stocks, whether private or public, and distribute it as it sees fit.

The provision further states that during the emergency period, the President can direct, subject to constitutional limitation, the National Food Authority “to conduct raids, seizures, and confiscation of rice and corn hoarded in any private warehouse,” provided that the agency will pay for the confiscated rice and corn at the prevailing consumer’s price.

But Gonzalez said that there is no need for that measure yet as supplies of rice are still stable.

Although the present situation does not warrant yet the declaration of a rice and corn emergency, Gonzalez assured that the government will not wait for the situation in India, Jamaica and Haiti to happen in the country before it would declare an emergency.

On Wednesday, Gonzalez met with officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), to find ways to efficiently implement laws against rice-hoarding.

He said he would be issuing a memorandum to the NBI informing them of various laws that would allow them to legally seize rice being hoarded by rice traders.

With this law, Gonzalez said that the NBI teams joining in the government’s campaign against rice hoarding, will be given more teeth and muscle to go after erring rice traders and dealers.

Gonzalez defines hoarding as having “50 percent more than your currently needed supply.”

The DOJ secretary earlier disclosed that the President has given law enforcement agencies the go-signal to take over warehouses of rice traders who insist on holding a rice holiday.

Gonzalez cited provisions in the 1987 Constitution that will protect the general welfare from emergencies, including “artificial” shortages.

“We can cite Section 17, 18 and 19 of the general welfare provision of the Constitution. If there is a situation like an artificial shortage, the government can take over,” he said.

Under Section 17, “in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.”

On the other hand, Section 18 provides that the State may, in the interest of national welfare or defense, “establish and operate vital industries and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities and other private enterprises to be operated by the government.”

Section 19 says that the State “regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed.”


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DOJ to Go After Rice Hoarders

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) Tuesday created its own Anti-Rice Hoarding Task Force (ARHTF) to assist the National Food Authority (NFA) in going after rice hoarders and those engaged in overpricing and other related crimes.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez named Senior State Prosecutor Roberto A. Lao as chairman of the task force with Prosecuting Attorney Rhodora Salazar, State Prosecutors Nestor Lazara, Philip de la Cruz and Romeo Galvez as members.

In an interview, Gonzalez said the creation of the task force is in line with the need to speedily institute measures to stop and prevent rice hoarding and related crimes which can be considered acts of economic sabotage.

He said the task force will handle inquest proceedings, preliminary investigation and prosecution of all cases relating to unlawful acts or omissions inimical to the preservation and protection of the country’s rice supply under Section 29 of Presidential Decree No. 4 as amended, as well as the provision of other penal statutes and related laws.”

On the other hand, the justice secretary said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will render the appropriate resource and groundwork assistance to the ARHTF.

“The ARHTF is likewise hereby authorized to directly coordinate and seek the assistance of other law enforcement and administrative agencies for purposes of facilitating the investigation, resolution, and prosecution of the such cases,” the memorandum stated.

In connection with this, Gonzalez has already directed the task force to verify reports that the NFA in Central Visayas has suspended the rice allocation of 21 accredited retailers in Cebu province found to have committed violations in the distribution and sale of government rice, such as overpricing, unreasonable depletion of stocks, non-display and refusal to sell stocks to consumers.

The DOJ chief also asked the ARHTF to summon personalities involved in the raid on the Inter-City Industrial Estate at Bocaue, Bulacan which houses some 115 warehouses, each containing 25,000 to 40,000 sacks of rice.

The area purportedly supplies 65 percent of the country’s rice demand.

“In this connection, you are hereby directed to look into and summon all the personalities mentioned in the said news article and, if warranted, conduct proper preliminary investigation proceedings thereon preparatory to the filing of the appropriate information in court, subject to existing rules on criminal procedure,” the justice secretary said.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez brushed off claims made by leftist groups claiming that the government is the one hoarding the country’s rice supply.

”Why would the government hoard when we are buying 1.5 million tons of rice from Vietnam and negotiating with Thailand to buy more?” Gonzalez added.

He also said that to insure that rice supplies would come to their target clients without delay, Gonzalez said that the Army through the orders of the Department of National Defense (DND) has already agreed to loan the NFA some 200 trucks to assist and facilitate delivery.


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