MANILA, Philippines – A vessel containing more or less 50,000 bags of allegedly smuggled rice was found in Tonquil, Sulu on Thursday, November 15.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), acting on a directive to confirm reports of the Customs Intelligence Zamboanga City and other intelligence units, found a cargo steel-hull vessel named MV Hulk 600 yards south of Bulan Island, Sulu.
Inside were more or less 50,000 bags of rice with 25 kilograms of rice in each bag. The vessel did not have an import permit or other documents to cover the shipment. The ship homeported Cagayan de Oro City with IMO number 8407826.
There were no shipmaster or officers on MV Hulk either. According to the remaining crew members, they had boarded a motorized boat headed toward a nearby island, but their exact whereabaouts are unknown.
PCG personnel were able to operate and move the ship early on Friday, November 16, with PCG ships BRP San Agustin (MRRV 4408) and BRP Bagacay (MRRV 4410) as escort. Later that day, MV Hulk shut down due to alarms in gear oil pressure, main engine lube oil pressure, and engine cooling water temperature, forcing the PCG ships to tow it to Zamboanga City.
MV Hulk arrived at Bengo Wharf, Zamboanga City early on Saturday, November 17, and is awaiting inspection from the Bureau of Customs. – Rappler.com