Visayas a test bed for further rice smuggling

MANILA, Philippines – Customs Intelligence Group members are looking into the illegal entry of smuggled rice in the Visayas, a recent trend in smuggling.

According to Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa, "That is what we are looking at right now after we became strict in Mindanao. They (smugglers) are testing if it can be possibly done in Visayas."

The statement comes after the seizure of 9,000 sacks of rice from Malaysia in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental on Good Friday.

The sacks of rice, worth P12.6 million (approximately $282,000) were loaded on the motor launch M/L Al-Althie, whose crewmembers failed to show documents for the shipment. The consignee was identified as Koduss Gajellama Kangal Ismael from Basilan.

Aside from rice, other goods found on the launch were noodles and foam from Malaysia.

“We are wondering why these were in Dumaguete. That's our farthest catch. That’s in Visayas, not in Mindanao,” Dellosa added.

Rice smuggling has been rampant in Mindanao ports, however stricter monitoring and continued seizure by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) appears to have spurred a transfer to the Visayas. The BOC acknowledged the supposed destinations of the rice imports were Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Dellosa also said that Sandakan, Malaysia was only being used a transshipment point for rice smuggling. The illegal shipments originally came from Vietnam. –