The Bureau of Customs-Port of Zamboanga, in co-operations with the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) together with operatives from Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and representatives from Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Inc., intercepted smuggled cigarettes with an estimated value of P10.8 million off the coast of Zamboanga del Sur.
Through a maritime patrol off Tabina, Zamboanga del Sur, the anti-smuggling team successfully intercepted one motorized banca marked as FB NORMAY, owned by a certain personality from Pangdan, Kaluwa, Sulu.
The motor-banca was loaded with more than 300 master cases of assorted smuggled cigarettes with brands “Fort,” “New Far,” “San Marino,” “Royal,” and “Astro.”
The shipment was allegedly for delivery to a certain “ASUL” in Pagadian City.
The Bureau of Customs- CIIS, and ESS spearheaded this operation following information from a concerned citizen on alleged smuggled cigarettes on board FB NORMAY fishing boat bound for Pagadian City.
It immediately coordinated with operatives from Phil. Navy PC 390, PCG, PDEA RO9 Zamboanga del Sur, and PNP Pagadian.
Sub-port Collector for Zamboanga Peninsula Irvin D. Ho warned the smugglers saying that they should never exploit the area for illegal activities because BOC, together with its partner law enforcement agencies, will be always vigilant in monitoring all shipments.
Moreover, he hopes that the constituents of Zamboanga del Sur will continuously support the BOC’s anti-smuggling activities in the area.
Meanwhile, Acting District Collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Z. Barte Jr. mentioned that this is the first seizure of this bulk coming from a transhipment aboard a wooden motorized banca in Pagadian City.
He issued a stern warning against contrabandists who try to elude paying rightful duties and taxes.
He stressed that Port of Zamboanga, under orders by Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, will be relentless in its anti-smuggling campaign in the Region.
The shipment will be subjected to Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) for lack of permit from the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) and for violation of Executive Order No. 245 (Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Tobacco and Tobacco Products) and Section 117 of the Republic Act No. 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act). Kiara Lauren Ibanez / BENJAMIN CUARESMA