DAVAO CITY , Philippines— Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña vowed to curb smuggling in Zamboanga port.
Smuggling activities are rampant in Zamboanga as reports said some government officials are protecting the smugglers, a perception which has yet to be verified.
During the turn-over of P100-million worth smuggled products, Lapeña revealed he will strengthen the campaign in the area by providing additional manpower to address the rampant smuggling activities in Zamboanga.
On Wednesday, the Coastguard Western Mindanao turned over to Lapeña the P100-million worth of confiscated smuggled rice.
Lapeña said they will intensify the campaign in bid to cleanse every port of smuggling activities “If we cannot totally eradicate, we aim to lessen their activities because it is hurting the legitimate traders.”
Smuggling industry in Zamboanga thrives as it is just an-hour boat ride to Sandacan, Indonesia where imported goods are sold at a lower price.
Citing the losses among legitimate traders, Lapeña said “It is high time that we address smuggling activities and protect legitimate businesses who pays the correct taxes” which is the bloodline of the country.
He also ordered a thorough investigation to determine the ownership of the confiscated rice.
Capt. Ronnie Gil Gavan, Coastguard District Southwestern Mindanao commander, said the cargo vessel, M/V J-Phia, loaded with some 60,000 sacks of rice was intercepted around 9:30 a.m. Sunday 25 nautical miles southwest of Olutanga island.
Gavan said the PCG elements aboard BRP-Tubbataha (MRRV-4401) were on security patrol when they intercepted a boat loaded with smuggled rice.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph