P595-M worth of cigarettes destroyed in Zamboanga City

John Unson - Philstar.com
P595-M worth of cigarettes destroyed in Zamboanga City
Officials of different agencies destroyed more than 10 tons of cigarettes with Indonesian brands in Zamboanga City on June 13, 2024. These were seized in separate operations of different law-enforcement entities in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and in the Zamboanga peninsula in the past six months.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — A big bulk of the P595 million worth of seized Indonesian-made cigarettes that officials of the Bureau of Customs destroyed in Zamboanga City on Thursday were confiscated in separate police and military operations in the Bangsamoro region’s three island provinces, officials said.

Representatives from the BOC, the Philippine National Police and the military’s Western Mindanao Command together led the symbolic disposal of the imported cigarettes in a warehouse in Barangay Baliwasan in Zamboanga City, according to officials here of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Brig. Gen. Prexy Tanggawohn, director of PRO-BAR, and BOC officials based in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao separately told reporters on Thursday afternoon that about 60% of the smuggled cigarettes destroyed in an inter-agency rite in Barangay Baliwasan were confiscated in separate police and military anti-smuggling operations in BARMM’s Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces in the past seven months.

As a standard operating procedure, smuggled cigarettes confiscated by the police, the military and other law enforcement agencies are to be turned over to the BOC for its disposition.

BARMM’s Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan island provinces have porous sea borders that are not tightly guarded for lack of security manpower and where seafaring smugglers can sail through easily when they bring in cigarettes from Indonesia via the country’s southern backdoor.

“We are glad to see the smuggled cigarettes confiscated in anti-smuggling operations in these three provinces finally destroyed and disposed of,” Tanggawohn said.

Units of PRO-BAR and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the 2nd Marine Brigade of the Philippine Navy had seized more than P200 million worth cigarettes from Indonesia in operations in the past 12 months in seaside towns in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte and in Cotabato City, all in the Bangsamoro region.

The P595 million worth cigarettes that officials of different agencies destroyed on Thursday shall be scattered in a sanitary landfill in Barangay Sallan in Zamboanga City, the BOC’s district collector in the Zamboanga City Port, Arthur Sevilla, said.

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