Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Central Mindanao police director, identified the three Indonesians as Sugonop Bentelu, 54; Rafles Pangutesang Salaka, 45; and Aris Bintilo, 26.
They were arrested in a house owned by Filipino Toto Malik, in Purok Kulasi in Barangay Labangal.
Seized from the suspects were 130 boxes of kretek cigarettes. Each box contained 40,000 pesos worth of contraband or a total of 5.2 million pesos.
Morales said the three were arrested two weeks ago for the same offense but managed to post bail and resumed their illegal activities.
“We will file a motion preventing them [from posting] bail,” Morales said. He said a manhunt had been launched against Malik.
Police raided the house of Malik about 9 p.m. where the smuggled cigarettes were being kept before its distribution to various outlets.
Regional police spokesperson Supt. Aldrin Gonzales said the cigarettes were manufactured in Indonesia.
Morales said the contraband were loaded on four motorized boats from Indonesia and brought inside the country through the so-called “southern backdoor.”
Malik hosted the three in his house and made his home as warehouse for the smuggled cigarettes. But neighbors became suspicious of their activities and the presence of the Indonesians, who could not speak Filipino, so they alerted the police.
Morales said his office had already coordinated with the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and Maritime command to intensify coastline and deep-sea patrol to prevent smuggling.
He also sought the help of Filipino fishermen in information gathering.
Gonzales said smuggling of goods has been rampant in the coast of the region and was reduced only when the police and maritime police intensified the campaign against smuggling.