Press Release
September 19, 2023

As PBBM gives away hoarded rice to poor families, Sen. Tolentino says smugglers should be dealt with

MANILA -- Senator Francis "TOL" N. Tolentino on Tuesday said rice smugglers and hoarders should immediately be charged by authorities now that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s raids on warehouses are underway.

Tolentino, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, also lauded President Marcos' decision to distribute the hoarded rice to poor families but stressed that charges must not be dropped against smugglers.

"Kapag puno na ang mga bodega ng smuggled na bigas, dapat nang kalusin. The forfeiture of rice should, however, not lead to the dropping of charges against smugglers," Tolentino said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, Malacañang announced that confiscated rice secured from warehouses was already being distributed to residents and local government units of Zamboanga Sibugay.

While President Marcos' decision to distribute confiscated rice was commendable, Tolentino said smugglers must not take this as a "get out of jail pass."

"The distribution of confiscated rice is not a 'get out of jail pass.' If it is, then they will just repeat it again, but this time, with the greater motivation of recouping what they have lost," the Senator stressed.

As authorities were distributing the confiscated rice to poor families, President Marcos assured the public that the government was following laws when it confiscated smuggled items, giving smugglers a 15-day notice to hear their side of the story.

He also commended the BOC for their recent seizure of 42,180 bags of imported rice worth P42 million at a warehouse in Barangay San Jose Gusu, Zamboanga City on September 15, 2023.

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