ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/14 August) – Joint Navy and Coast Guard operatives yesterday intercepted an estimated P3 million worth of smuggled rice off this city.
The confiscation was the fourth after Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar called on the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to prevent the entry of smuggled rice in this city saying it unjustly competes with the produce of the local farmers.
Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, Police Regional Office-9 information officer said the operatives, who were on patrol, intercepted the rice shipment 10:25 p.m. Tuesday after they spotted a wooden-hulled ferry steaming to this city.
Huesca said the ferry, M/L Anraiza skippered by Kee Dugasan, was found to be carrying at least 3,000 sacks of rice of 25 kilos each that came from Jolo, Sulu.
The police official said it was not immediately known who owns the rice except that the vessel belongs to Hadja Nur-in Sain of Zone 3, Barangay Tulay, Jolo.
Huesca said the Navy and Coast Guard personnel escorted the ferry to the port of Zamboanga after Dugasan failed to present documents of the rice shipment.
He said the confiscated cargo will be turned over to the BoC after an inventory.
Tuesday’s confiscation was so far the fourth after Salazar called on the BoC to prevent the entry of smuggled rice in this city.
The first confiscation was last July 25 where 230 sacks of rice of 25 kilos each were intercepted by the police station 6 at a mini-wharf in Barangay Arena Blanco.
It was followed with the confiscation of 2,300 sacks of rice of 25 kilos each with an estimated market value of P1.9 million last August 1 by the local police at a private wharf in Barangay Baliwasan.
The third confiscation last Thursday by the local police was also at a private wharf in Baliwasan where 380 sacks of rice of 25 kilos each were seized.
Salazar wanted to stop the entry of smuggled rice after receiving reports that rice from neighboring countries has been smuggled to the city at very low prices, to the detriment of the local farmers.
Salazar earlier even likened the rice smugglers to farm pests saying “they are eating up the city’s economy.” (MindaNews)