THE former district collector of the Port of Zamboanga has found himself in deeper trouble after his claim that he has “recovered” last week some 16,000 bags of the missing 23,015 bags of smuggled rice turned out to be false.
In a statement yesterday, Bureau of Customs (BoC) commissioner, Isidro Lapeña said further investigation of the incident disclosed that the 16,000 bags of rice purportedly found and recovered by the bureau in several private warehouses in Zambonga through the effort of relieved district collector, Atty. Lyceo Martinez, were instead “covered by legal documents.”
“Missing sacks of rice still unaccounted, recovery operation (still) ongoing,” the customs chief said.
Early this month, news broke out that 23,015 bags of rice smuggled from Malaysia apprehended by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) jointly with the military last September 22 off the coast of Zamboanga went missing.
The disappearance happened after the goods were formally turned over to the custody of Martinez, as required by law.
The office of Lapeña, quoting a report from Martinez -- who had also feigned ignorance over the disappearance -- then issued a press statement last October 5, claiming the port had already recovered 16,000 bags of the missing rice in several warehouses after two days of operations, from October 1 to October 2.