Navy seizes P10-M suspected contraband off Sulu

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/19 September) – Philippine Navy troops intercepted last week two wooden-hulled ferry loaded with an estimated P10 million worth of suspected smuggled goods off the province of Sulu, a top navy official disclosed Monday.

Rear Admiral Armando Guzman, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) command chief, said one of the two vessels was sighted while anchored 1,600 yards north east and the other 1,200 yards north of Cabucan Island, Sulu, last Thursday.

Guzman said the Navy personnel sighted the two wooden-hulled ferries while conducting patrol on board a gunboat, and discovered the alleged smuggled goods upon inspection.

He said the seized items did not have the necessary documents and consisted of imported rice, sugar, and assorted food stuffs from Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.

He identified the supposed owners of the suspected contraband as Hadji Hamsi Puntukan and Hadja Christina Lao of Jolo.

Guzman said that the presence of Navy vessels at the Jolo pier might have forced the skippers of the two vessels to anchor near Cabucan Island while waiting an opportunity to dock and unload the goods.

The two vessels including its cargos were escorted to Chinese Pier, Jolo, Sulu and subsequently turned over to the Bureau of Customs for proper disposition and filing of appropriate charges.

“The Naval Forces Western Mindanao will continue to intensify our naval patrols in the area to prevent smugglers and lawless elements in using the sea lane in Western Mindanao,” Guzman said. (MindaNews)