Philippine Navy patrol ship BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37) intercepted a wooden boat carrying a load of smuggled cigarettes while patrolling in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato waters on Sunday, December 3.
Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), in a statement Wednesday, identified the cigarette smuggling boat as the M/B Queen Juhaya.
“The BRP Artemio Ricarte, under the operational control of Naval Task Force 71, was conducting territorial defense operations in the southern waters of Eastern Mindanao when this unit encountered said watercraft. PS-37 radio challenged the watercraft but was unresponsive. Instead, said watercraft increased its speed and altered its course which resulted in its interception,” it added.
Upon boarding, the crew of the BRP Artemio Ricarte saw that the M/B Queen Juhaya was carrying more or less 527 master cases of smuggled cigarettes with an estimated street value of P8 million.
Investigations also revealed that one of the crewmen of the intercepted watercraft was an undocumented Malaysian national. An unlicensed firearm was also confiscated.
“PS-37 escorted the watercraft, along with its six Filipino crew, to Capt. Feranil Pier, Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Panacan, Davao City for proper disposition to authorities. Upon arrival, the Camp Panacan Hospital medical team administered a health checkup of the apprehended crew members,” NFEM added.
The confiscated smuggled items were turned over to the Bureau of Customs District Collection II for safekeeping while the M/B Queen Juhaya was kept at IGACOS Ferry Wharf.