ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Naval Forces Western Mindanao (Navforwem) has intercepted a shipment of some PHP12 million worth of smuggled rice off Basilan province, a top Navy official said Saturday.
Rear Adm. Erick Kagaoan, Navforwem commander, said the smuggled riced was intercepted by Naval Task Force 61 on Friday in the vicinity of Lampinigan Island, Basilan.
Kagaoan said a ship belonging to Navforwem’s special operation unit was conducting maritime security patrol when it chanced upon a wooden-hulled vessel named M/V Indah Jehan sailing to this city.
Kagaoan said the vessel was found loaded with some 10,000 sacks of rice worth PHP12 million with no importation documents when the troops conducted board and search operation.
Investigation showed that M/V Indah Jehan manned by 10 crewmen came from Labuan, Sabah, a Malaysian state where the Philippines has a dormant claim.
M/V Indah Jehan was escorted to Ensign Majini Pier at the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon in this city for proper documentation for eventual turnover to the Bureau of Customs, Kagaoan said.
He said the foiled importation of smuggled rice was a result of an intensified naval presence and focused maritime patrol of the Philippine Navy in support of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) operations. Teofilo Garcia, Jr / PNA – northboundasia.com