Coast Guard foil rice smugglers in Zamboanga

Zamboanga City—Authorities have intercepted three wooden-hulled ferries loaded with smuggled rice off this city, an official disclosed Monday.

Lt. Commander Noriel Ramos, Zamboanga Coast Guard Station commander, disclosed that the vessels were intercepted in a joint law enforcement operation around 6:50 p.m. Saturday near the shore of Barangay Baliwasan, this city.

Ramos said the joint team was conducting patrol aboard on two Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats of the Coast Guard when they intercepted the three wooden-hulled vessels loaded with rice.

The intercepted vessels were m/v Aizalyn 3, M/L Jasmin Michael and M/L Habiba, all homeported in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. The vessels were each loaded with sacks of rice believed to have come from Malaysia.

Ramos said the cargoes were consigned to two people identified only as a certain Salam and Musad, both alleged smugglers based in this city.

He said they have yet to conduct an inventory jointly with the Bureau of Customs to determine the exact volume of the cargo aboard the three vessels, but believed these to be worth millions of pesos.

The vessels are currently moored at a private wharf in this city, he added.

Ramos said the apprehending team is made up of personnel from the Coast Guard Southwestern Mindanao District, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the military, and the police.

Meanwhile, in Dumaguete City, the National Food Authority in Negros Oriental has assured there is no hoarding of commercial rice in the province amid the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities.

NFA provincial manager Hilaria Ganzon gave the assurance as the NFA here celebrates Grains Industry Week from September 20 to 26.

According to Ganzon, they are monitoring the prices of commercial rice in the market, as well as conducting inspections of warehouses.

“We are continuously inspecting warehouses as well as monitoring traders,” Ganzon said.

So far, the NFA here has not found any indication of hoarding and in fact, the traders here say that “the supply at source has dwindled,” she pointed out.

According to Ganzon, there is plenty of supply of corn grits in Negros Oriental, which is a lot cheaper than rice, and the supply from Mindanao is also stable.

“We have an alternative to commercial rice because a lot of people eat corn grits,” she noted.

The NFA is selling government rice at P32 per kilo.

Ganzon said the price of NFA rice is stable compared to commercial rice, which has been “volatile” the past few months.

Topics: smuggled rice , Lt. Commander Noriel Ramos , Zamboanga Coast Guard Station , Bureau of Customs
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