Dock workers unload part of the 2,160 bags of Vietnamese rice on Thursday at the Eva Macapagal Port in Pier 15 in Manila. The shipment is part of the 500,000 metric tons scheduled for importation from Vietnam that will add to the country's stockpile.  (MNS photo)

Dock workers unload part of the 2,160 bags of Vietnamese rice on Thursday at the Eva Macapagal Port in Pier 15 in Manila. The shipment is part of the 500,000 metric tons scheduled for importation from Vietnam that will add to the country’s stockpile. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. is a transshipment point for imported rice and not a place where the commodity is being kept illegally, the National Food Authority (NFA) said on Wednesday.

The NFA conducted an investigation into allegations by the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers that NFA rice is being kept at Harbour Centre, the agency said.

From the vessels to the trucks, the rice imported by the NFA is transshipped through Harbour Centre before the shipments are delivered to NFA warehouse, the state-run grains agency noted.

The consumer group has urged the NFA to investigate what may possibly be rice hoarding at the port. “We have to ensure that Filipinos have enough food to eat. We want to arrest the syndicate manipulating prices in the market,” the NCFC said in a separate email.

According to NFA, Harbour Centre was contacted by Golden Orient Ship Management and Agencies Incorporated, the cargo handler hired locally by supplier Vina Foods Inc. for the rice imported from Vietnam.

NFA Administrator Renan B. Dalisay the shipment consisted of rice bought under a government-to-government transaction.

“The price per metric ton included the cost of insurance freight, delivered at place and free on warehouse,” Dalisay noted, saying that under the terms of reference, the winning supplier has to deliver the goods free of obligations and expenses on the part of the government up to NFA’s designated warehouse.