By Nonoy Lacson
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted some 2,500 master cases of imported tobacco products worth P55 million that were to be taken to Siasi, Sulu coming from Sandakan in Sabah Malaysia.
Zamboanga City Bureau of Customs District Collector Segundo Barte said the apprehension of imported cigarettes was one of the biggest haul the bureau has recorded this year.
According to Barte, Zamboanga City BOC operatives, in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in this city and Philippine Marines K9-unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom), intercepted the illicit tobacco products worth P55 million on board a motor launch bound for Siasi in Sulu province.
Barte said the seizure was in line with the bureau’s commitment to maintain border security through the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) field offices in Zamboanga,
The port collector here said the operation stemmed from tip provided by a civilian informant that a motor launch from Sandakan, Malaysia was loaded with assorted smuggled cigarettes, and was bound for Siasi, Sulu on Sunday, May 31.
The cargo wooden vessel was immediately towed to Ensign Majini port of the Philippine Navy for the conduct of inventory and inspection of its cargoes.
Most of the imported cigarettes carried the brand Cannon Menthol.
Members of ESS are currently conducting an inventory of the apprehended cigarettes which shall be subject to seizure and condemnation procedures.
Barte said his office will issue a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) for violation of Executive Order No. 245 titled Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Leaf Tobacco and Tobacco Products and Section 117 of RA 10863 otherwise known as Customs Modernization and Tariff Act or CMTA.
Last week, the bureau also seized a cigarette-making machine and other materials worth P120 million inside a warehouse in Pagadian City.