ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Authorities injected, soaked, and crushed thousands of boxes of smuggled cigarettes with used oil before throwing these into the city dump on Wednesday, December 15.
Bureau of Customs (BOC) district collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Barte Jr. said they disposed of 8,167 cases, 2,184 reams, and 618 packs of cigarettes valued at P258,419,560.
In November, authorities confiscated many boxes of smuggled cigarettes in three separate operations in Zamboanga City and Sulu, exposing smuggling operations in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The cigarettes were traced to Indonesia and smuggled into Mindanao via Tawi-Tawi.
The cigarettes were injected with used oil at Baliwasan Seaside to make sure these would not be recycled and sold and then crushed by machines before these were dumped at the sanitary landfill in Barangay Salaan.
Helping the BOC were the Bureau of Fire Protection, Zamboanga City Police Office, Philippine Marines, Coast Guard, and the city government, among others.
Barte said the assorted cigarettes were seized by different law enforcement groups in line with the anti-smuggling campaign ordered by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco lauded the BOC and law enforcement groups for the seizure of the smuggled cigarettes but called on them to be more vigilant during the yuletide period, saying lawless groups would likely take advantage of the holidays. – Rappler.com
Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.