Mindanao naval forces seize ₱67.9M worth of smuggled rice 

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) -- Naval Forces Western Mindanao  (NFWM) apprehended a foreign vessel loaded with P67.9 million worth of Vietnam rice in Zamboanga Sibugay province Saturday evening. 

In a statement released Monday, the naval unit said it seized the Mongolian-registered Motor Vessel (MV) Diamond 8 with 15 crew members - 11 Bangladeshis and four Chinese Nationals - with 34 undocumented Filipinos, including a minor, and 17 unidentified individuals. The captain is a Chinese national identified as Lin Yang Yin. 

Investigation showed the vessel had 27,180 sacks of rice weighing 1,359 metric tons before it unloaded around 8,000 sacks to accompanying vessels MV Yssa Maine and MV Yousra.

Naval forces are searching for "Yssa Maine" and "Yousra."

Meanwhile, "Diamond 8" was escorted to Ensign Majini Pier in Zamboanga City for investigation and documentation. The individuals on board received medical and physical check-up upon arrival. 

"The successful foiling of the illegal transport of smuggled tons of rice is a result of an intensified and focused maritime patrol and operation of the Philippine Navy," the Navy unit said in the statement.

Asked about what government plans to do with the seized rice, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Agriculture advised it could be sold as cheap rice to beef up dwindling National Food Authority (NFA) stocks.

"Dahil makakain ng taong bayan 'yan, ang sinabi sa akin ng Department of Agriculture, pwede po 'yan ibenta as NFA rice, cheap rice para maincrease yung stock pile ng NFA," Roque said in a press briefing today. 

[Translation: Because it is food, I was advised by the Department of Agriculture that it is allowed to sell the rice as NFA rice, cheap rice, to increase the stock pile of the NFA.]