NFA eyes suit vs trader with P21-M rice shipment

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Friday, January 17, 2014

THE National Food Authority (NFA) is considering filing charges against the Dabawenyo businessman who is seeking the release of his P21 million worth rice shipment despite having no license to trade rice and import permit.

Lawyer Marian Theresa Villafuerte of the NFA legal affairs, in an interview after the hearing at the sala of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16, said the plaintiff Joseph Mangupag Ngo could be liable for administrative and criminal charges after the latter was found to have no license to engage in rice trading and for not securing an import permit from NFA.

"This is a violation of Presidential Decree no. 4 and a violation of the NFA Charter. So we can file an administrative or criminal case for engaging in rice business without the corresponding license," Villafuerte said.


The NFA's legal counsel, however, said the filing of charges against Ngo is yet to be decided as they are still to discuss it with NFA administrator Orlan Calayag.

"We are just counsels for NFA and for the filing of cases we leave it to the NFA administrator and the director for NFA legal affairs if there will be any instruction for us to file any cases against the plaintiff," Villafuerte said.

The plaintiff's legal counsel Ferdinand Taglucop, on the other hand, refused to comment on the possible charges that may be filed against Ngo.

In addition, Villafuerte stood firm on their contention against the writ of preliminary injunction granted to Ngo saying that Ngo has no legal right on the rice imports as he merely made agreements with the consignee of the bills of lading, Starcraft International Trading Corp.

"He is not the importer. He is a mere buyer of the rice. Therefore, we are saying that he has no legal personality to file this case because a mere execution of agreement to buy the rice is not enough for him to be clothed with legal personality to file this case. If you are an ordinary buyer, you won't buy something that is not yet legally available because it is still with the Bureau of Customs," Villafuerte added.

Lawyer Arnold Aggalao also of the NFA legal affairs, for his part, reiterated that even if Ngo already paid taxes for nine out of the 15 bills of lading, he still has to secure an NFA permit.

He also said that the contention of Ngo on the expired exemption of the Philippines from the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is invalid since a private individual has no right to question the guidelines of WTO.

The court gave Ngo and Taglucop five days to comment on the motion to lift the writ of preliminary injunction filed by NFA while the latter was also given five days to comment on the motion for clarification filed by the plaintiff who sought to have the arguments of NFA clarified.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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