Smuggled rice in Zambo seized anew

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ZAMBOANGA CITY — Despite several arrests made by authorities, smuggling of rice continue in Zamboanga City with P2 million worth of rice intercepted just 300 yards of a wharf on Friday.

Lt. Commander Alvin Dagalea, Zamboanga Coastguard Station Commander said the smuggled rice shipment was loaded aboard M/L Fatima and M/B Rajena when it was intercepted by joint team of personnel from Coastguard, Joint Task Force Zamboanga and Bureau of Customs (BOC) at around 9:35 p.m. Friday just 300 yards off Taha wharf in Barangay Baliwasan, this city.

Dagalea said they were on patrol when BOC personnel called and informed them that there is an arriving shipment of smuggled rice.

He immediately coordinated with the Joint Task Force Zamboanga, who backed them when they intercepted the rice shipment.

He said the rice shipment came from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi but ownership of the cargo has yet to be ascertained.

He said the M/L Fatima and M/B Rajena were taken to the local port.

He said initial on board inspection on the two water crafts yielded numerous maritime safety violations.

But he said no explosive and narcotic products were found by the K9 unit aboard the two water crafts.

Last month, police have seized 2,550 sacks of smuggled rice in separate occasions in Zamboanga Peninsula.

Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula information officer, said the first apprehension was made around 3:30 p.m. on February 18, in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte.

Galvez said another batch of rice shipment was intercepted around 11:20 p.m. on February 10 in Barangay Matim, Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay.

In January, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also seized P120 million worth of undocumented shipment of rice in the same town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The PCG’s ships were sent to the area after receiving a tip that the Philippine-registered ship MV J-Phia was transporting cargo transferred from a foreign vessel in the Sulu Sea.

MV J-Phia’s 18 crew members refused to cooperate when PCG personnel tried to inspect the boat, prompting them to tow it to the port here for further investigation. <b>(with reports from PNA)</b>

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