MANILA - Eleven Bangladeshi and 4 Chinese crew members of a cargo vessel were apprehended by Philippine Navy personnel for allegedly smuggling over 20,000 sacks of rice off the waters of Zamboanga Sibugay on Saturday night.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, said his men also found aboard the vessel at least 34 undocumented Filipinos, including a minor, and 17 others whose identities are still being established.
Medina said the Navy’s BRP General Mariano Alvarez intercepted the Mongolian-registered MV Diamond 8 at around 10 p.m. after they saw "suspicious movement" by the foreign vessel skippered by Chinese national Lin Yang Yin.
“Based on the initial investigation, more or less 27,180 sacks of Vietnam rice in 1,359 metric tons with an estimated market value of P67,950,000 were on board,” said Medina.
However, Medina said the vessel had already unloaded around 7,000 to 8,000 sacks of rice to 2 other vessels, identified as MV Yssa Maine and MV Yousra, whose whereabouts are being located by the Navy.
Medina said MV Diamond 8 and the crew members were escorted to the Ensign Majini Pier in Zamboanga City for further investigation. Crew members and the others onboard were given medical and physical check-up.
"The Philippine Navy through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, will continue to conduct constant monitoring and patrolling to deter any unlawful activities in its area of operation for a secured maritime environment," he said.