By Betheena Kae Unite
A cargo ship loaded with 60,000 undocumented sacks of rice worth P120 million was intercepted while transiting the waters off Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay Sunday, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
MV J-Phia, a Philippine-registered cargo ship, according to Coast Guard, was intercepted somewhere around 25 nautical miles Southwest off Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay around 9:30 a.m.
Investigation showed that Coast Guard received information stating that MV J-Phia was transporting a cargo transferred from a foreign vessel somewhere in Sulu sea.
Coast Guard district in Southwestern Mindanao (SWM), joint units composed of Special Operations Unit, Coast Guard K9 Team onboard PCG vessels, were alerted to immediately apprehend the vessel.
The captain of the vessel, during investigation claimed that the vessel’s last port of call was Cagayan De Oro but it failed to show any records of departure.
The PCG units in Cagayan De Oro, on the other hand, said the vessel has no record of departure in their area of responsibility.
MV J-Phia is a cargo ship with 50,242 gross tonnage and overall length of 282 meters. It is now under investigation.
PCG later escorted MV J-Phia to Zamboanga Port for proper disposition. It may face possible smuggling case, authorities said.
Furthemore, the PCG with the Bureau of Customs will initiate forfeiture proceedings of MV J-Phia and will file appropriate case for its crew members.