LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte: A Taiwanese fishing boat with a cargo of about 2,000 boxes of imported cigarettes underwent a thorough inspection on Tuesday after it was impounded by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at the port of Currimao here.
Suspected of containing cargo with smuggled cigarettes and prohibited drugs, the foreign vessel was held for the meantime at Currimao seaport pending the release of a search and seizure warrant from the Bureau of Customs based in Aparri, Cagayan to allow the conduct of an intensive search operation and avoid technicality in the filing of appropriate charges against those who are on board a wooden-hulled boat skippered by Taiwanese skipper, Chen Yon Ji with two other Taiwanese nationals and four Indonesian crewmen.
On November 19 evening, a joint operation of the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the PCG was conducted at the Currimao seaport as they received a tip that a foreign vessel with a cargo of alleged smuggled cigarettes will be docking at the Currimao seaport that evening.
As a general protocol, the PCG took custody of the items and the Taiwanese boat with the markings CT4-2489 and CT4-2189 on the starboard and port sides to verify documentation compliance while waiting for the Warrant of Seizure and Detention to be issued by the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
During the operation activity, two Izuzu cargo trucks bearing plate numbers GCP 747 and YGK 454 were also intercepted while loading boxes sealed with a black plastic wrap from the fishing boat.
It turned out however that the operation was negative.
In an earlier interview, Atty. Josephuz Nerez, legal counsel of the Bumijaya International Trading Inc., said the items have complete documents with bill of lading.
The Taiwanese vessel was supposedly heading to Vietnam but it went back due to bad weather.
Earlier, Governor Imee Marcos has urged local authorities to inspect the vessel and ensure that proper protocol is observed. PNA