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Aquino: Philippines not Asia's smuggling capital.

Manila: President Benigno Aquino denied a report saying that the Philippines is Asia's smuggling capital, adding he has been working hard for good governance for the past three years by curbing corruption and smuggling.

"Only one person said that," argued Aquino, referring to Rosendo So of the Swine Development Council who claimed that a total of Philippine Peso62 billion (Dh5.166 billion) worth of products, including petroleum, were smuggled into the Philippines in 2012.

"We don't know his vested interest in making this claims," said Aquino.

The Philippine government has a major plan to address smuggling, which will be implemented by a team led by Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon, said Aquino.

"This is really an extensive solution to the problem of smuggling in the country," said Aquino, adding the plan includes the weeding out of corrupt Customs personnel; and filing of cases against suspected smugglers. He did not give more details. He did not give more details.

Earlier, So gave out details of the smuggling activities in the Philippines.

He told Manila Standard that 600,000 metric tons of rice worth Philippine Peso10 billion (Dh833.3 million) was smuggled into the country in 2012, adding that smuggled chicken and pork products reached Philippine Peso8 billion (Dh666 million); fish and aquatic products, Philippine Peso3.8 billion (Dh316.6 million) ; sugar at Philippine Peso 4.8 billion (Dh400 million); onion and other vegetables, Philippine Peso3.5 billion (Dh291.6 million)

Another Philippine Peso30 billion (Dh2.5 billion) worth of petroleum products were smuggled into the country last 2012, So said, adding his data came from the Bureau of Customs and oil players in the Philippines.

In reaction to Aquino's prediction earlier that the Philippines will have a sufficient supply of rice, So said, "The country will be sufficient in rice because the smuggled imported rice is flooding the local markets and selling at a cheap cost, thereby killing our local farmers."

The smuggled grains were misdeclared as "slag, wood wall, tiles and used clothes," said So.

Smuggled agricultural products have reached Isabela in northern Luzon, known as the country's rice granary, said So, adding that rice grains from China and Vietnam illegally entered ports in Visayas, central Philippines and Mindanao in the southern Philippines last year.

Smuggled rice is being shipped from Cebu, in central Philippines; Davao and Cagayan de Oro in the southern Philippines to Manila. From Manila, it is brought to northern suburban Bulacan and transported to provinces in northern Luzon, So said.

"If the prices of rice continue to plunge, local rice production will certainly collapse," So warned.

The group has drafted a manifesto on rice smuggling which was submitted to Aquino and Biazon, last February, said So.

"But the illegal entry of grain shipments continues," he lamented.

Critics have also called for the resignation of Biazon for his alleged inability to stop smuggling in the Philippines.

Biazon said that he would do so if ordered by President Aquino.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 12, 2013
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