PH, Malaysian navies in joint effort to fight smuggling in Tawi-Tawi

Published October 9, 2020, 2:50 PM

by Nonoy Lacson

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Naval gunboats of the Joint Task Force (JTF)—Tawi-Tawi and the Malaysian Navy have conducted a three-day sea patrol operation in the waters off Tawi-Tawi to send a strong signal to smugglers of imported goods that both governments are serious in the campaign against smuggling.

This was disclosed by Bureau of Customs (BOC)  Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Sub-Port Collector Nurin Hakimin, who said that his office and  JTF-Tawi-Tawi  were intensifying efforts “to protect the borders from illicit trade and customs fraud”.

“The Malaysian navy is very cooperative in our mission. They also posted at the border a giant navy ship with three naval gunboats to run after smugglers of cigarettes and sugar that cross the border with our country and Malaysia,” Hakimin said.

The two navies conducted the three-day sea patrol in Mapun and Taganak towns in Tawi-Tawi, which borders the country and Malaysia. The patrol ended Thursday, October 8. 

According to Hakimin, Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) Commander Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman has also ordered a closed watch on the entry and exit of smuggled goods to and from Malaysia.

He said JTF-Tawi-Tawi Commander Col. Arturo G Rojas has vowed to fully assist the BOC in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi to achieve its goal as directed  by BOC-Zamboanga District Collector Segundo Barte and BOC Chief Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero.

JTF-Tawi-Tawi Deputy Commander Col Nestor E Narag has also conducted  a dialogue with the  stakeholders in Mapun and Taganak Municipality onboard PS 35  of the Philippine Navy hosted by Lt Commander Randy Ferraren on October 6 to 8. 

Late last month, the BOC in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi destroyed about P3 million worth of smuggled  imported cigarettes.

Hakimin said   his office destroyed tobacco products worth P3 million for  violation of Executive Order No. 245, entitled “Amended Rules & Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Tobacco and Tobacco Products”, and RA 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act of 2016.