ZAMBOANGA CITY – Over 7,000 bags of rice suspected to have been smuggled from Sabah were seized by the Coast Guard in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said Wednesday.
Officials said the Coast Guard confiscated the rice in the coastal village of Recodo after intelligence agents monitored small boats unloading the cargo from a vessel anchored off Zamboanga.
The Coast Guard, under Lt. Commander Noriel Ramos, immediately coordinated with the military’s Task Force Zamboanga to secure the smuggled rice and reported the apprehension with the Bureau of Customs.
The bags of, worth some P11 million, were discovered on a compound of a mosque late Tuesday, but villagers would not say who the owner was.
The seizure of the rice came after Mayor Beng Climaco, on orders from President Rodrigo Duterte, intensified the anti-smuggling campaign here.
She also directed Acting District Collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Barte to “clean up Zamboanga of smuggling, stressing that the city has been in the focus of anti-smuggling operations due to the failure of previous customs officials.”
Climaco told Barte: “It is the direct order of the President and the City Government to clean up Zamboanga City of smuggling. I hope you take this order to heart.”
Thousands of bags of smuggled rice had been seized by authorities in Zamboanga since early this year and in some instances had disappeared from the warehouses of the Bureau of Customs and even while being guarded by the police.
Climaco, who is supporting the extension of martial rule in Mindanao, said she also asked security forces to tighten checkpoints on highways. (Mindanao Examiner)
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