Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III ordered the Bureau of Customs to donate the 30,000 bags of undocumented rice shipments intercepted earlier by the agency to the Department of Social Welfare and Development to help in the government’s anti-poverty and disaster relief programs.
Dominguez issued the order to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero after reporting the interception of the shipment that was tagged in Zamboanga City as undocumented imported rice.
“Donate that to the DSWD. They can use that,” Dominguez told Guerrero during the latest executive committee meeting of the Department of Finance.
The 30,000 bags of rice for donation to the DSWD are on top of the 16,000 bags earlier turned over by the Customs under former commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Dominguez’s orders to augment disaster relief efforts for typhoon victims.
About 9,000 bags of rice seized in the Port of Cebu were turned over by the Customs to the DSWD on Sept. 14.
Another 6,921 bags in the Port of Zamboanga and 748 bags in the custody of the bureau’s Enforcement and Security Service were also donated to the DSWD on Sept. 19 and 24, respectively.
The Customs said it donated to the DSWD 5,040 pieces of canned goods, 109 packages of emergency survival blankets, 350 boxes of bed sheets, blankets and towels, 1,332 boxes of brand new clothes, and 153 packages of face masks from the Manila International Container Port on Sept. 21.
According to a Customs report to Dominguez, the bureau will donate used clothing of various volumes seized from the ports of San Fernando in La Union, Manila, MICP, Legazpi City, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Subic.
Earlier, Dominguez directed the Customs to immediately release smuggled rice and other food items seized by the agency to the DSWD to augment ongoing government preparations before typhoon “Ompong” struck Northern Luzon.
Dominguez said “government-to-government transfers in emergency situations can be legally fast-tracked” as in the case of the Customs’ release of the seized food stocks to the DSWD for disaster relief.
(J. G. Rada, MT)