Coast Guard stops smuggling of P3.6M dried seahorse shipment
ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), in coordination with other government agencies, has intercepted PHP3.6-million worth of dried seahorse mixed with plastic scrap in a shipment here, a PCG official announced Thursday.
Zamboanga Coast Guard Station commander, Lt. Commander Noriel Ramos, said the shipment, placed in a 20-foot container van, was intercepted at the local port at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Ramos said the shipment was intercepted after they received reliable information that a container van of Oceanic Container Lines is loaded with an undetermined amount of banned aquatic products bound for Manila.
He said they coordinated with the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Ports Authority and intercepted the truck carrying the container van with the contraband.
Ramos said the dried seahorse (Hippocampus) packed in 15 sacks, worth PHP3.6 million, was found mixed with sacks of plastic scraps when the container van was inspected.
He said the shipment is consigned to one Ramon Sayson with business address at 1026th Baltazar St., Caloocan City.
However, Sayson denied owning the dried seahorse, claiming he was informed by one of his workers that a certain Tan of Tawi-Tawi has inserted the 15 sacks in his plastic scrap shipment without his knowledge.
Lawyer Lyceo Martinez, Bureau of Customs district collector, said Sayson will still undergo investigation, citing that “being the owner of the 20-footer van shipment, he should be knowledgeable” about it.
Martinez said the dried seahorse was imported from China and is used as “medicine against erectile dysfunction.”
Pedling Munap, BFAR chief regulations officer, said a kilogram of dried seahorse is sold between PHP30,000 and PHP35,000.
Munap said the collection and sale of seahorse is prohibited under Section 97 of Republic Act (RA) No. 8550, otherwise known as “The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998”.
He said it is also in violation of RA 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act”.
“Time and again, we have heightened the security and campaign against all forms of smuggling activities in the local port, together with other government agencies. This apprehension now is a result of our intensified drive against all forms of illegal shipments,” Ramos said. (With reports from Ely E. Dumaboc/PNA)