Boat loaded with smuggled rice brought back to Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The boat carrying millions of pesos worth of smuggled rice from Sandakan, Malaysia, which mysteriously disappeared from the port here after it was seized by Navy men, was intercepted off Sulu on Wednesday.
Miguel Saquisami, Bureau of Customs district collector here, told Inquirer that ML Ayang is now being escorted back to the city port by the Philippine Navy.
Col. Allan Arrojado, head of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said by phone that they took the initiative to locate the vessel after it was reported missing from the port here on Tuesday.
“The vessel is now with the Philippine Navy and is en route to Zamboanga City,” Arrojado said.
He said a Navy boat spotted ML Ayang docked at the Hadji Warid wharf in Patikul, Sulu, and men were emptying it of its load.
Arrojado said when Navy personnel came ashore, they noticed that the vessel had sported a new name, ML Sea Dayang. But a close inspection had revealed the boat’s original name, he said.
Saquisami said officials would conduct further investigation to determine how the boat managed to slip out of the port here.
ML Ayang was among four vessels seized by elements of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao off Barangay Recodo here after they were found loaded with about 16,000 sacks of rice and falcata lumber on Monday.
The rice cargoes were suspected to have come from Malaysia.
The crewmen of the four boats could not show any import document for their cargo, which was estimated to be worth P20 million. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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