The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will conduct its own investigation to determine the owner and origin of the shipment of 60,000 sacks of smuggled rice worth PHP120 million seized in Zamboanga Sibugay by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District South Western Mindanao recently.
“The custody of the seized cargo is now in the Bureau of Customs, we will conduct further investigation to know the real origin of the smuggled rice, the sender, and the consignee if it is really intended for consumption in the Philippines,” said Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña in a statement.
The smuggled rice was officially turned over on Wednesday to the BOC by PCG Captain Ronnie Gil Gavan and witnessed by Port of Zamboanga District Collector Darwisha Schuck, and other PCG officials.
During the conduct of regular maritime security and inspection of the PCG, the ship was found suspiciously docked on Licum Banks in Zamboanga. The sacks of rice were loaded to a local cargo ship MV J-Phia.
The ship and its cargo were immediately inspected and eventually apprehended after the captain, Rogelio Necessario, failed to show safety certificates, shipping documents, and import permit.
Initial investigation on the ship’s captain showed the last port of call was in Cagayan de Oro, but no record of departure was presented, according to PCG. It was believed that the ship came from Vietnam and transferred the illegal cargo in Sulu.
The owner of the ship and the cargo will face smuggling charges for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
“It’s only the first week of the month yet these unscrupulous traders are really trying their luck. We will strengthen our information sharing and cooperation with other border patrol agencies to ensure our border is free from smuggled goods,” Lapeña added.
With this, the BOC chief lauded the PCG for the successful interception of the illegal shipment.
The seized ship is now docked at Port of Zamboanga. (PNA)