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Recto wants ships carrying smuggled rice destroyed: ‘Yung Porsche nga nayupi!

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Ships that wittingly carry smuggled goods—such as rice—in large quantities should be seized and confiscated, and if allowed by law, “destroyed, sank, be made into artificial reefs.”

Senator Ralph Recto stressed this on Tuesday amid report that a Mongolia-flagged ship was caught unloading suspected “smuggled” 8,000 sacks of rice off the coast of Zamboanga over the weekend.

“If smuggled goods like luxury cars are being destroyed by the government with much hoopla, then why not do the same to ships that knowingly transport contraband from abroad?” he said.

“That would be the strongest deterrent to the illegal importation of farm products, which harm the livelihood of millions of farmers, Recto said.

He noted that forfeiture of vessels are allowed under Philippine law, citing Section 1113 (a) of R.A. No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

If not destroyed, confiscated ships can be repurposed. “Pwedeng gawing training ship. P’wedeng gawing carrier of relief goods to calamity areas. P’wedeng research ship sa Benham Rise,” Recto said.

However, Recto clarified that he was not proposing that every ship caught smuggling cargo “suffer the fate of destruction,” but only those which were contracted to transport only one kind of smuggled item whose contraband nature is known to the crew.

“Hindi naman isang container lang ng bigas ay automatic na gigibain na ‘yung barko,” the Senate president pro tempore said.

“Pero kung ang buong barko ay kinontrata para mag-smuggle ng bigas o langis, at kasabwat ang crew at may-ari, ganyang klaseng mga barko ang dapat hatulan ng kamatayan,” Recto said.

The senator added, “Kung carrier in good faith, at pati sila naloko din, huwag dapat parusahan.”

“But if the ship is in conspiracy with the shipper, and participates in its clandestine unloading, and navigates in a manner that eludes detection, then the ship is an active participant in a crime,” he said.

“Siguro panahon na para mag-sample ang pamahalaan ng isang pasaway na barko upang hindi tularan ng ibang may balak na magpuslit ng mga iligal na produkto,” Recto said.