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P1.43 billion cigarettes destroyed in Zamboanga

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THE Bureau of Customs Port of Zamboanga (BOC-POZ) destroyed a total of 19,419 cases and 667 reams of smuggled cigarettes valued at more than P1.43 billion.

POZ acting district collector Arthur Sevilla Jr., in a report to Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, said the condemnation took place last April 28, 2023, at a BOC-rented warehouse in Bgy. Baliwasan, Zamboanga City, and witnessed by representatives from the local government, operating units from partner agencies, Commission on Audit (COA) and other waterfront stakeholders.

Sevilla said the cigarettes, of assorted brands and with actual value of P1,439,586,900, were apprehended in various anti-smuggling operations in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the ‘Basulta’ areas (Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) during the first quarter of 2023.

The official further noted that the condemnation was the largest thus far under the Port of Zamboanga, highlighted by the discovery last March of a warehouse full of smuggled cigarettes worth P1.425 billion in Indanan, Sulu, during an operation spearheaded by the Intelligence Group (IG) under Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy (see also Pinoy Exposé, March 7, 2023).

The cigarettes were first drenched in water and repeatedly crushed by payloader equipment in the presence of all partner agencies and stakeholders. What remain will be transported and disposed of in a sanitary landfill, Sevilla added.

The amount and quantity of the destroyed cigarettes also eclipsed the condemnation initiated by the Port of Zamboanga last April 13, 2021, in similar fashion when more than P50 million-worth of cigarettes were destroyed (see also Pinoy Exposé, April 19, 2021).

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