• Huge rice shipment, weapons seized

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    DAVAO CITY: Security forces seized on Monday at least 131,000 bags of smuggled rice and a cache of illegal weapons from three Filipino boats and a Vietnamese vessel off Pata Island, near the Malaysian border in southern Philippines, officials said. Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said a Navy patrol under Commander Richard Rosales and Lieutenant Ed Leonelle Marvin Mapalo of the 65th Marine Company intercepted the four vessels and held their crew and skippers for questioning. She said among those being investigated were 16 Vietnamese and their captain Nguyen Van Loi, all of M/V An Bien 89 ALCI. The boat was loaded with 116,000 bags of rice. Muyuela said three other local vessels – M/L KH, M/L Fatima Nurmina and M/L Boy 1 – yielded 15,000 bags of rice and 11 assorted automatic rifles and grenade launchers. She said the three boats had 153 crew and workers. It was not immediately known who owns the weapons and the rice shipment, but smuggling activities are rampant in southern Philippines.

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