By Nonoy Lacson
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) marked another feat early this week after the police and military authorities intercepted three motor vehicles loaded with some 2,850 reams of imported cigarettes worth P2 Million.
Bureau of Customs (BoC) Zamboanga City District Collector Segundo Barte, Jr., said the cigarettes were loaded in three private vehicles, an Avanza car with 1,000 reams), Revo with 700 reams and multi-cab pick up with 1,150 reams when intercepted by the authorities at a checkpoint here.
He said the contraband was intended for distribution to traders doing businesses at the Zamboanga City public market here.
“Three vehicles were intercepted by our authorities at a checkpoint here and when asked about their importation permit, the driver failed to show them. They immediately held on the vehicles and their cargoes,” Barte said.
BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero lauded Collector Barte for his anti-smuggling campaign which saw the reduction of smuggling activities in the region by about 90 percent.
Earlier Comm. Guerrero ordered Coll. Barte to exert utmost effort to stop smuggling in this city and to seek the help of the police and military authorities in the campaign on anti-smuggling, in the Zamboanga peninsula and provinces under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
BOC has reported that the police and military including the locals are now extending a helping hand to BOC to curb the entry of imported cigarettes to this city.
Barte admitted BOC could not totally stop the entry of imported cigarettes due to the high profit being enjoyed by traders in the sale of imported tobacco products in this city.
“The smugglers are enjoying a high profit in cigarettes which is why even [if] we confiscate their cars and imported cigarettes, still they will continue to engage in smuggling of cigarettes,” Barte claimed.
He also claimed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in this city is now readying charges to be filed at a local fiscal office against identified smugglers.
He said “very soon the city will no longer be called the capital city of smuggling in the southern Philippines.”