10 trucks with smuggled goods missing Print
Thursday, 12 April 2018 13:31

By Dan Toribio

Ten (10) trucks loaded with suspected smuggled rice and sugar that were held by policemen near a finger wharf along  Baliwasan Seaside were discovered missing yesterday morning, according to police.

A member of the Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company, Insp. Carmen Saquilon, filed a complaint to put into record that the trucks loaded with the items were no longer inside the holding compound of the private wharf yesterday.

Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company personnel conducted a checkpoint last Tuesday night along Baliwasan Seaside as part of their manhunt operations against escapees of the Tetuan Police Station who bolted jail earlier that day.

Ten trucks carrying sacks of rice and sugar passed by the checkpoint coming from a finger wharf nearby.

Upon inspection, the drivers of the trucks could not present documents legalizing the transportation of the items.

Police decided to hold the trucks at the holding compound of the finger wharf pending their turn-over to the Bureau of Customs.

Chief Insp. Shellamie Chang, Zamboanga City Police Office Information Officer, told newsmen that the Bureau of Customs, however, refused to receive the trucks loaded with undocumented items.

Yesterday morning, Insp. Saquilon discovered that the trucks along with the sacks of rice and sugar were no longer in the area.

This is not the first time that suspected smuggled items were reported missing.

In January 2017, around 300 sacks of smuggled rice and an undetermined number of cartons of cigarettes and noodles were reported missing while in the process of being turned over to the Bureau of Customs.

A PNP Intelligence report stated that the sacks of imported rice and boxes of imported cigarettes were spotted while being loaded aboard a commercial vessel at the Jolo port the night before.

Authorities recorded 300 sacks of smuggled rice, an undetermined number of sacks and cartons of Maggi Kari, Sedap and Migoreng with a market value of P800,000 which was stored at the vessel cargo haul.

The report on the smuggled items was filed by the Zamboanga Coast Guard prior to its turnover to the Bureau of Customs District Office.

Upon investigation however, the goods were reportedly not in the custody of any of the agencies concerned in the apprehension and safekeeping of the items.

In an interview with then Bureau of Customs District Collector Atty. Halleck Valdez, he denied that the goods are in the custody of the Bureau of Customs.

Zamboanga Coast Guard Commander Alvin Dagalea also denied having custody of the items saying that they have turned over the goods to the Bureau of Customs.

In January 2015,  more than 700 sacks of smuggled sugar were reported missing from the Bureau of Customs warehouse at the Zamboanga port.

Port police said that several people came by the port to retrieve the confiscated sugar based on alleged instructions of the city mayor the night before.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco- Salazar denied issuing the instructions during a press conference.  (Dan Toribio)