BOC moves to seize ship that drifted into Bohol Sea

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BOC moves to seize ship that drifted into Bohol Sea
The Liberian-flagged bulk carrier M/V Ohshu Maru was found loitering in the Bohol Sea without having filed a Notice of Arrival or Marine Protest. Photo from the Bureau of Customs.
  • The Bureau of Customs Port of Cagayan de Oro on May 3 issued a warrant of seizure and detention against a vessel found drifting in the Bohol Sea
  • The Liberian-flagged bulk carrier M/V Ohshu Maru did not file a Notice of Arrival or Marine Protest
  • The vessel is carrying coal and expected to arrive at Kinuura, Japan on May 18
  • It had been loitering in the Bohol Sea since last week

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cagayan de Oro on May 3 issued a warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) against a vessel drifting in the Bohol Sea.

The Liberian-flagged bulk carrier M/V Ohshu Maru had been loitering in the Bohol Sea since last week without having filed a Notice of Arrival or Marine Protest as required under Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), BOC said in a statement.

BOC noted that under Section 1212 (Entrance of Vessel through Necessity) in relation to Section 1201 (Ports Open to Vessels and Aircrafts Engaged in Foreign Trade) of the CMTA, the ship’s master must file a notice or protest explaining the circumstances of the change in its course, if any, within 24 hours from arrival of the subject vessel with the BOC.

Prior to the issuance of the WSD, a team composed of various BOC units and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency inspected the vessel on May 1 following an intelligence report and pursuant to a mission order issued by BOC-Cagayan De Oro district collector Alexandra Lumontad.

BOC deputy commissioner for Intelligence Juvymax Uy in a statement said:  “We received the Vessel Tracking System records, which stated that M/V Ohshu Maru turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmission in Malaysia for a day and eight hours before entering our waters. Even the Coast Guard Station in Siquijor could not establish a radio communication with the vessel.”

According to vessel tracking websites, M/V Ohshu left Yokohama, Japan on March 23 and is expected to arrive in Kinuura, Japan on May 18. The vessel is carrying coal.

Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service director Verne Enciso earlier said the ship’s master, Capt. Pepito Agmata, in a letter dated May 1, said the vessel was advised by its charterer to drift to a safe place at Philippine Sea while en route to the port of Kinuura.

While Agmata apologized for not reporting immediately, Enciso said the vessel must still be subjected to seizure proceedings.

Enciso said records of the case will be referred to BOC’s Legal Service for determination of existence of probable cause for criminal prosecution of the vessel’s operators for violations of Sections 1201, 1212, 1401 (Unlawful Importation or Exportation), 1410 (Failure to Exhibit or Deposit Documents), and 1430 (Violations of this Act and Rules and Regulations in General) of CMTA.

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