Mayor Beng Climaco yesterday requested the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Navy to coordinate with the police in order to investigate the smuggled rice that allegedly came from the naval gym in Upper Calarian.
Climaco was referring to an incident on June 2 at about 9:50 p.m. when the police, while conducting roving patrol, intercepted a truck loaded with 125 sacks of rice at 50kg each near Budgetwise in Calarian.
When interrogated, the driver identified as Michael Carpio Napolereyes, 27, of Talon-Talon, claimed that the rice came from Western Mindanao Command, and failed to present legal papers for the rice.
Climaco said she immediately reported the matter to Customs Commissioner Isidro La Peña and WesMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega.
Climaco rushed yesterday afternoon to the naval gym and there she saw for herself hundreds of sacks of smuggled rice stored (not WesMinCom gym as earlier reported), as the BoC had earlier sought assistance of the navy for storage of the apprehended smuggled rice.
She said the apprehended sacks of rice and those stored at the naval gym were of the same brand (Chef).
“We have to clarify this matter because I am really against smuggling and this has to be totally stopped,” Climaco declared.
She lamented that rice smuggling is like stealing the money from the farmers, and this money in the form of tax should go to the national coffers to support the programs of President Duterte.
While she understands that the police have limited powers over smuggling activities in the absence of deputization by the BoC, Climaco said time is of the essence that coordination among law enforcement agencies be established and strengthened to put a stop to smuggling activities in Zamboanga.
“Our police are very aggressive running after smuggled items only to be refused because of lack of deputization,” she said, stressing that the BoC should account for the rice now stored at the naval gym.-(Vic Larato)