By Ferdinand Patinio

CONTRABAND. A Bureau of Customs (BOC) staff looks over the cases and reams of smuggled cigarettes to be destroyed in a customs-rented warehouse in Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City on Thursday (June 13, 2024). The contraband, with an estimated market value of PHP595.22 million, was seized through separate maritime patrol operations in various areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi from November 2023 to April 2024. (Photo courtesy of BOC)

MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) – Port of Zamboanga on Thursday led the destruction of nearly PHP600 million worth of smuggled cigarettes.

Acting District Collector Arthur Sevilla Jr. reported that the destruction of more than 8,816 cases and 1,014 reams of smuggled cigarettes was conducted in a customs-rented warehouse in Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City.

He said the cigarettes were manually shredded with a cutter, drenched in water, and repeatedly crushed by payloader equipment in the presence of all partner agencies.

The destroyed material will be disposed of in the sanitary landfill in Barangay Salaan, complying with environmental regulations and public safety measures.

The contraband, with an estimated market value of PHP595.22 million, was seized in separate maritime patrol operations in various areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi from November 2023 to April 2024.

“With the firm directive of Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio to ensure transparency and credibility, the BOC-Zamboanga has been conducting the disposal of smuggled cigarettes through a public condemnation activity, in the presence of representatives from the Commission on Audit, Department of Health, the local government unit, stakeholders, and all partner operating units,” Sevilla said.

Meanwhile, Rubio said the condemnation process plays a crucial role in ensuring the proper disposal of illicit goods.

“Maintaining transparency and credibility is our foremost commitment. We will make sure that only legitimate products enter our local markets, thus safeguarding our citizens from the dangers associated with the illicit tobacco trade,” he said. (PNA)