Authorities seize P2-M smuggled rice in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/02 August) – Combined police and military forces have intercepted Thursday night a shipment of alleged smuggled rice worth around P2 million at a private wharf in this city.

The apprehension Thursday came exactly a week after a shipment of smuggled rice was intercepted and seized by the local police at a private wharf in Barangay Arena Blanco.

Senior Supt. Jose Chiquito Malayo, officer-in-charge of the Zamboanga City Police Office, said the rice shipment was intercepted at around 8 p.m. Thursday at a private wharf in Barangay Baliwasan.

Malayo said they seized the shipment after Roque Cabasal, the skipper of M/L Fatima Nursalyn, failed to present documents proving its legality.

Malayo said the shipment consisted of 2,300 sacks, each weighing 25 kilos.

The cargo, which came from Jolo, Sulu, is owned by Madznur Tulawie, according to Malayo.

However, he said that local Customs District Collector Darwisa Schuck informed them through telephone that the owner had allegedly paid the customs duties of the shipment and “that the official receipt was left at her table.”

Malayo said they are conducting an inventory of the confiscated shipment for turnover to the local office of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) for proper disposition.

He said the coast guard inspector also found out that M/L Fatima is operating with an expired license and that its seven crewmen were unlicensed.

Thursday’s apprehension of supposedly smuggled rice was the second in a week’s time.

At dawn last July 25, Police Station 6 personnel headed by Chief Insp. Elmer Acuña have intercepted a shipment of 230 sacks of smuggled rice at a mini-wharf in Barangay Arena Blanco.

The rice of 25 kilos each sack came from Jolo, Sulu and was ferried aboard a wooden-hulled vessel.

The rice shipments were intercepted after Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar dared the BoC to prevent the entry of smuggled rice in this city, stressing “it kills the lifeblood of the local farmers.”

Salazar has likened the rice smugglers to farm pests, saying “they are eating up the city’s economy.” (MindaNews)