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Navy seizes ship with $1.3 million in smuggled rice off Zamboanga Sibugay

Staff Writer |
Naval Forces Western Mindanao seized a Mongolian-flagged cargo ship that was found loaded with smuggled rice off Olutanga Island in Zamboanga Sibugay on Saturday night.

Rear Adm. Rene Medina, NFWM commander, said Naval Task Force 61 intercepted M/V Diamond 8, which was found to be carrying 27,180 sacks, around 1,359 metric tons, of Vietnam rice. The cargo is estimated to be worth around P67.9 million ($1.3 million).

The Diamond 8 was intercepted by the BRP Mariano Alvarez (PS-38), which had been about to launch a rescue and assistance operation for the ship. The Diamond 8 had been unresponsive and the Navy thought it had been harassed by terrorists.

The Diamond 8 had already unloaded around 7,000 to 8,000 sacks of smuggled rice to two motor vessels — identified as M/V Yssa Maine and M/V Yousra — which managed to slip away

efore the Alvarez arrived. The Navy has launched an operation to track down the two boats.

Navy personnel also arrested 51 Filipino workers and 15 foreign members of the Diamond 8's crew. Of the crew, 11 are Bangladeshi and four — including its captain, Lin Yang Yin — are Chinese.

Mongolia, a landlocked state, is considered a flag of convenience by the International Transport Workers' Federation.

The use of flags of convenience has been criticized for making it more difficult to determine the real owners of ships, especially those involved in crime.

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