P67.9-M smuggled rice shipment intercepted off Zamboanga SibugayPosted on
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (Navforwem), apprehended a Mongolian-registered ship loaded with some PHP67.9 million smuggled rice off Zamboanga Sibugay.
Rear Adm. Rene Medina, Navforwem commander, said the vessel, M/V Diamond 8, was intercepted during a counter-action operation 15 nautical miles southwest off Olutanga Island at around 10 p.m. Saturday.
Medina said M/V Diamond 8 is manned by a 15-man crew consisting of 11 Bangladeshis and four Chinese. It is skippered by Lin Yang Lin, a Chinese national.
Medina said initial investigation showed the ship was loaded with some 27,180 sacks of Vietnam rice with an estimated market value of PHP67.9 million.
But Medina said that more or less 8,000 sacks of rice had already been unloaded and transported to the shore by two local ships–M/V Yssa Maine and M/V Yousra.
He said the two local ships were reportedly manned by 34 Filipinos, including one minor and 17 individuals who are subject for identification.
He said they are currently locating the whereabouts of M/V Yssa Maine and M/V Yousra.
He said prior to the apprehension of the Mongolian-registered ship, a joint intelligence information and monitoring had been established by the Littoral Monitoring System Pilas (LMS-Pilas) to facilitate the rescue and assistance operation for the unresponsive vessel believed to be harassed by terrorists groups at around 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Medina ordered the Naval Task Force 61 to conduct maritime patrol and interdiction operation in the area after the “suspicious movement made by the unknwon foreign vessel.”
Medina said the BRP-General Marian Alvarez escorted the M/V Diamond 8 to this city. The foreign-owned ship is moored at the Ensign Majini Pier of the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon for further investigation, documentation of undocumented individuals on board and proper disposition.
He said they immediately coordinated with the Bureau of Customs, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Immigration, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for proper action.
He said the successful apprehension of the smuggled tons of rice is a result of an intensified and focused maritime patrol and operation of the Philippine Navy in this part of the country. -PNA