THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) seized late Tuesday three containers of cigarettes from Vietnam valued at P260 million, which had been smuggled into the country via Bataan, the Department of Finance said.

In a statement Wednesday, the BoC said the intercepted shipments contained master cases carrying the “Mighty” and “Two Moon” brands, along with premium Vietnamese rice.

The containers were intercepted at checkpoints in Hermosa, Orion and Limay, Bataan, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said via Viber, citing a report from Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero.

Mr. Guerrero said the captain of the ship that delivered the containers “cannot explain the presence of cigarettes” in the cargo but he was able to present transport documents for the rice.

“We took control of the ship and crew and will issue warrant of seizure,” Mr. Guerrero was quoted as saying.

The BoC said the imports were consigned to Asia Pacific Rice Trading Corp., with a counterfeit statement of settlement of duties and taxes for the rice. There were no tax stamps on the cigarettes according to the BoC. Cigarette packs on the Philippine market carry a seal indicating the payment of taxes.

The crew of the LCT Yellow River vessel and the truck crews are subject to investigation.

“As the overall trade environment gradually recovers from the COVID-19, the BoC remains committed in its campaign against smuggling,” Customs said. — Beatrice M. Laforga