Yachts being used as cover for smuggling – Coast Guard

philippine-coast-guard-illegal-luxury-yachts-20150409_263B0498DF8E47FCA2D890D314B7E6A9The luxury boats now transport not just tourists but, sometimes, illegal drugs, weapons, other prohibited items, and immigrants, says the PCG’s Palawan chief

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Palawan is checking yachts more aggressively this summer, citing intelligence reports that criminal elements might be using these luxury boats for transporting contraband.

“There are intelligence reports that it is really happening now,” said Commodore George Ursabia, head of PCG-Palawan district, on Thursday, April 9.Ursabia said the PCG in the past seldom checked on yachts, assuming they were being used by tourists for cruising.These days, however, there are information that yachts are being used as “natural cover” for smuggling illegal drugs, weapons, other prohibited items, and immigrants.Ursabia said he established a system requiring all PCG units in his jurisdiction to “submit an inventory, accounting of all the yachts in their areas of responsibility” every day.They have yet to make arrests, however.Tourists appreciate the tighter security, the Palawan PCG chief said. “At one time, I was in Coron and had a chance to join the boarding team. The French were on board the yacht and they welcomed that development. They felt secured because of the presence of PCG,” he said. –

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