The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has so far donated over 16,000 bags of rice equivalent to around 417,000 kilos to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) to augment the government’s disaster relief efforts for typhoon victims.
In compliance with the directive of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BOC turned over 9,000 bags of rice seized in the Port of Cebu to the DSWD on Sept. 14.
Another 6,921 bags in the Port of Zamboanga and 748 bags in the custody of the bureau’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) were also donated to the DSWD on Sept. 19 and 24, respectively.
The BOC said it also donated to the DSWD 5,040 pieces of canned goods, 109 packages of emergency survival blankets; 350 boxes of bedsheets, blankets and towels; 1,332 boxes of brand new clothes, and 153 packages of face masks from the Manila International Container Port (MICP) last Sept. 21.
According to a BOC report to Dominguez. the Bureau will also donate used clothing of various volumes seized from the ports of San Fernando in La Union, Manila, MICP, Legazpi City, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Subic.
Last month, Dominguez directed the BOC to immediately release smuggled rice and other food items seized by the agency to the DSWD to augment ongoing government preparations before typhoon “Ompong” struck Northern Luzon.
According to the Finance chief, “government-to-government transfers in emergency situations can be legally fast-tracked” as in the case of the BOC release of the seized food stocks to the DSWD for disaster relief.
Under Chapter 10, Section 1141 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), goods under BOC custody that are up for disposal “may be donated to another government agency or declared for official use by the Bureau, after approval of the Secretary of Finance, or sold at a public auction within 30 days after a 10-day notice posted at a public place at the port where the goods are located and published electronically or in a newspaper of general circulation.”
Goods suitable for shelter, food items, clothing materials and medicines “may be donated to the DSWD,” the CMTA states.
President Duterte, on the recommendation of the economic team led by Dominguez, has issued Proclamation No. 593 last September declaring a state of calamity in Regions I (Ilocos), II (Cagayan Valley), III (Central Luzon) and the Cordillera Administrative Region, which were the worst hit by typhoon “Ompong.”
Damage to agriculture, facilities and infrastructure in the most affected regions was estimated at P33.7 billion.