ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities have arrested 10 people and seized some PHP7 million worth of smuggled petroleum products off Tawi-Tawi province, a top police official said Saturday.
Col. Richard Verceles, operations chief of the Area Police Command-Western Mindanao, said the shipment was seized around 3:30 a.m. Saturday near the island town of Tandubas.
Police Maritime Group personnel based in Tawi-Tawi were conducting seaborne patrol when they spotted ML Shaira, a wooden-hulled vessel in the seawater of Tandubas.
During the inspection, the maritime police found there were 10 people onboard and the vessel loaded with 590 drums of undocumented petroleum product with a value amounting to PHP7 million.
Verceles identified the 10 arrested persons as Kashmeer Abao, 41, the skipper; Sajid Hassan, 51, owner of the wooden-hulled vessel; Jimmy Pulahan, 48, vessel machinist or mechanic; Hadji Caesar Utuali, 65; Hadji Manuel Kesun, 64; Te Teteng Meran, 32; Gurano Japar, 42; Jamala Hussin, 18; Kolongan Nasilin, 52; and, Raymond Abdul, 23.
The seized fuel reportedly came from Malaysia and was bound for Zamboanga City, Verceles said.
The official said the suspects were taken to the headquarters of Police Maritime Group in Bongao, Tawi-tawi, while the seized contraband will be turned over to the Bureau of Customs for proper disposition. (PNA)