‘Missing’ boat loaded with smuggled rice spotted off Sulu, says BOC collector
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 earlier – was intercepted off Sulu on Wednesday.
Miguel Saquisami, Customs’ district collector here, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, that ML Ayang has been escorted back to the city’s port by the Philippine Navy.
Col. Allan Arrojado, commander 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 the Navy personnel came ashore, they noticed that the vessel had sported a new name, ML Sea Dayang.
But they saw the original name upon close inspection, he said.
Saquisami said they would conduct further investigation to determine how the boat managed to slip out of the port here.
ML Ayang was among four motor launches seized by elements of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao off Barangay Recodo here after these were found loaded with about 16,000 sacks of rice and falcatta lumber on Monday. The rice cargoes were suspected to have come from Malaysia.
The crew of the four boats could not show any import document for their cargo, which was estimated to be valued at P20 million.
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