Reports of fake rice in Davao City show that the city has become the country’s new smuggling capital despite Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s threats against people behind the illegal traffic of goods, according to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag).
The umbrella group of farmers, agri-business operators and party-list groups said Wednesday it has seen indications that smuggled agricultural commodities including, pork and onions, have found their way in the ports of Davao.
So said that since the National Food Authority (NFA) has issued import permits only for rice coming from Vietnam and Thailand, shipments from other countries like China are therefore illicit.
“Our sources tell us that this fake, plastic rice is a mixture of potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic or industrial synthetic resins,” said the Sinag chair. “Food experts say that eating three bowls of plastic rice is the same as eating one large sando bag.”
In a statement, NFA administrator Renan B. Dalisay said that reports of smuggled Chinese rice—in particular fake rice—in the local market have not been confirmed, especially as samples of the alleged product are still undergoing laboratory testing.
“We received only a small sample of the reported fake rice from Davao,” Dalisay said, adding that scientists are having difficulty because the samples they received were less than the one kilo needed for test results to be conclusive
He called on consumers who may have bought fake rice to submit to authorities at least a kilo of uncooked grains for testing.
The NFA chief said that, meanwhile, he has instructed NFA field officials nationwide to conduct “massive market inspections” to allay fears that plastic rice is now in the Philippines.
But So said the authorities must not only go after the retailers who are selling fake rice but more so the smugglers “and their cohorts in government.”
“Perhaps we have to ask Mayor Duterte why smugglers are apparently not deterred by his threats against them,” So said. “In fact, they are bolder now and bringing in this fake rice.”
Last Sunday, Duterte in his weekly TV program warned smugglers against bringing in plastic rice, saying he would make the criminals eat the grains.
So said Duterte’s threats are ineffective, adding that Sinag has received information that alleged rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan has re-established his base in Davao City.
“Bangayan, also known as David Tan, was able to do so even if Duterte told a Senate committee last year that he (the suspected smuggler) would not be allowed to set foot in the city,” So added.