By JESSIE L. CASALDA
DAVAO CITY – The National Food Authority (NFA XI) has blocked the release of a multi-million rice shipments consigned to a Davao-based businessman which is being held by the Bureau of Customs (BOC)here.
In a pleading filed before Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16, NFA administrator Orlan Calayag asked Judge Emmanuel Carpio to junk the motion filed by businessman Joseph Ngo urging the court to clarify the coverage of its recently issued writ of preliminary injunction involving around 167 containers of sacks of rice which was imported by the country through the Davao port.
In the Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI) dated December 13, 2013, Judge Carpio directed BOC XI to release the rice shipments covering nine bills of lading which was consigned to Ngo.
Ngo asked for a preliminary injunction in court after the Bureau of Customs seized and held his rice shipments due to the absence of import documents.
But in court, Ngo batted that he had already paid the customs duties and taxes and permit to import is not anymore needed since the quantitative restriction (QR) granted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the Philippines had already lapsed.
QR is a privilege given by the WTO to the Philippines to limit the rice importation to protect local farmers.
In a motion for clarification, Ngo argued that the preliminary injunction should not only be limited to the nine bills of lading but also to the other rice imports made by the complainant and to future rice importations.
But NFA, which recently intervened on the case, asserted that the injunction order clearly stated that it only covers the nine bills of lading in which the taxes had already been paid.
The NFA said if it is the intention of the court to include the other shipment covered by six bills of lading (BLs), the court should have enumerated it in the order along with the nine other bills of lading.
“Without admitting that the rice shipments are validly imported, the reason why the six BLs were not included in the WPI is because the customs duties and taxes are not yet paid. Hence, there is a valid ground not to release the rice shipments covered by the six BLs,” the NFA added.
The NFA also pleaded that the other undeclared rice shipments should not be included in the injunction order.
In addition, the NFA again asked the court to dissolve the injunction order due to lack of jurisdiction. (PNA)