Police: Trader uses animal feeds ingredient as rice extender

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Monday, July 7, 2014

POLICE have discovered Monday around 900 sacks of long grain rice mixed with animal feed ingredients not suitable for human consumption in a warehouse in Malolos City, Bulacan.

Purefeeds Corporation located at the First Bulacan Industrial Corporation in Tikay Malolos, Bulacan, owned by Jomerito Soliman, was found mixing and repacking broken rice residue, an ingredient being used for animal feeds, with legitimate and exported long grain rice.

"Kapag inihalo nila 'yung bagong bigas doon sa bigas na ginagamit for animal feeds of course dadami iyon at iyon ay inilalagay nila sa sako ng isang uri ng bigas na mamahalin at iyon ang ibinebenta nila sa tao," Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Benjamin Magalong said.

Magalong said that after checking the records of the said warehouse, it showed that the company's operation was for animal feeds.

During an inspection, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said Purefeeds "clearly deceived" their customers by using the animal feed ingredient as rice extenders.

However, Soliman dismissed the allegations that his legitimate animal feeds business is involved in illegal activities.

He said his records with the National Food Authority (NFA), Bureau of Internal Revenue and with the Bureau of Customs show that his business is legal and valid.

"Lahat ng operasyon naming dito sa aming warehouse ay legal at naayon sa batas, wala kaming nilalabag na anumang batas para man sa tao o para sa pagkain ng mga hayop," he said.

Authorities temporarily shut down the said warehouse while further investigation is being conducted.

President Benigno Aquino III recently ordered law enforcement agencies to conduct operations against hoarding and cartel-like activities that tend to affect the country's food supply and drive up food prices.

Magalong said they have already inspected 18 warehouses nationwide, 14 of which were cleared while four were found operating with irregularities.

Among of the four were the Purefeeds Corporation and the JY and Son Corporation in Cupang, Muntinlupa; and the Jommaro Star Rice Mill in Marilao, Bulacan, which was caught repacking the affordable NFA rice, mixed it with other varieties, to pass it off as commercial rice.

Arthur Juan, NFA Administrator, said owners of the establishments might face charges for the violation of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act.

Magalong said they have already seized 80,000 sacks of repacked rice.

"For now titigil muna natin ang operasyon at itutuloy ito sooner pero hindi natin ipapalam kung kalian," he said.

Roxas, meanwhile, urged the public to be "more vigilant" about the items being sold in the market and to immediately report illegal activities in relation to hoarding or any price manipulation to the authorities.

"I expect the PNP (Philippine National Police) to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to break the operations of criminal groups responsible for hoarding and price manipulation of basic commodities," he said.

According to the Philippine Statistical Authority - Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (PSA-BAS), the prevailing retail prices per kilogram (kg) of commercial rice as of July 3 stood at P40 for regular-milled rice, P42 for well-milled, and P45 for premium rice, while fancy rice cost P50/kg.

Latest figures from the agency's Price Situationer of Selected Agricultural Commodities showed that the prices of the staple grain increased in Cebu City, Zamboanga City, and Tuguegarao, with special rice costing P5/kg more in Baguio, and regular milled rice up by P4/kg in Batangas City.

Stable prices were observed for beef with bones and lean pork, while a P20/kg drop was noted both for lean beef in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, and for pork liempo in Naga, Camarines Sur.

Dressed chicken increased by P10/kg in Metro Manila and by P5/kg in Iloilo City, where the price for chicken eggs experienced an increased similar to prices in Legaspi and Butuan.

Bangus (milkfish) prices fell by P40/kg in Legaspi, and P10/kg in Tuguegarao, Zamboanga, and typhoon-battered Tacloban, as it increased by P10/kg in Cebu and Davao, while alumahan (long-jawed mackerel) also reported mixed movements.

Galunggong (round scad) prices gained as much as P20/kg in seven trading centers despite going down in Tacloban and Batangas City, which reported a P20/kg cut in tilapia prices, which otherwise remained stable elsewhere.

Red onion prices increased in seven trading centers as did carrots in 10 -- including a P50/kg increase reported in Legaspi -- while sitaw (string bean) costs gained as much as P20/kg in six trading centers despite price cuts in Zamboanga and Butuan.

Tomato posted both increases and dips including a P10/kg cut for the fruit’s prices in Metro Manila, Cabanatuan, and Tacloban, as did cabbage and habitchuelas (snap beans).

Calamansi prices dropped in eight trading centers, while the price of mango reported mixed movements, as did the costs of cooking oil, brown sugar, and refined sugar. (Sunnex)

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