- The Philippine Navy intercepted a foreign vessel carrying thousands of sacks of smuggled rice
- The vessel was carrying 27,180 sacks of Vietnam Rice worth P68 million
- A total of 66 people, including 51 Filipino workers were a******d
The Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) seized more than 27,000 sacks of smuggled rice from a Mongolian-flagged vessel off Olutanga Island in Zamboanga Sibugay late Saturday, April 14.
NFWM Commander Rear Adm. Rene Medina said M/V Diamond 8 which was carrying the thousands of sacks of rice weighing 1,359 metric tons with an estimated worth of almost P68 million, was seized by Naval Task Force 61 onboard BRP Heneral Mariano Alvarez.
As per GMA News, Medina said the seized vessel had already unloaded around 8,000 sacks of Vietnam rice to two smaller ships identified as M/V Yssa Maine and M/V Yousra — which managed to slip away before the BRP Heneral Mariano Alvarez arrived.
Fifty one Filipino workers who were still hauling rice from the M/V Diamond 8 were left behind after the two small vessels sped off.
The 51 Filipino workers and the crew of the seized vessel – 11 Bangladeshis and 3 Chinese – were taken into custody for investigation.
Originally, the BRP Heneral Mariano Alvarez was sent to rescue the M/V Diamond 8 after they received reports that the ship was being harassed by armed men. It was found through the Littoral Monitoring System, but was unresponsive to calls.
Medina identified the captain of the seized vessel as Lin Yang Yin, a Chinese national.
“The successful foiling of the illegal transport of smuggled tons of rice is a result of an intensified and focused maritime patrol and operation of the Philippine Navy,” Medina said.