Inspection of vehicles for drugs urged

Robert Ace Barbers

A House leader asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct thorough search of the vehicles apprehended because for violation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said the PNP should not forget the possible proliferation of drugs in the country amid the Luzon ECQ due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Barbers asked the PNP to check on all vehicles daringly violating community quarantines and passing through designated police checkpoints in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Despite the government’s strict travel restrictions to prevent spread of COVID-19, huge volume of motorists are bravely passing through checkpoints without regard for being flagged down and issued traffic violation tickets.

“I’ve seen on TV and newspaper reports that PNP personnel manning those checkpoints just flag down and issue traffic citation tickets against quarantine travel violators without conducting a thorough search of the erring drivers and their vehicles,” Barbers said.

He explained that under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, quarantine violators’ vehicles can be thoroughly checked for drugs or other illegal cargoes since they have already committed a violation of the law.

“They’ve already violated travel restrictions under the Bayanihan law kaya pwede na arestuhin. So, a search is incidental to a valid arrest. Kaya sa Amerika, pinabubuksan pati ang trunk ng sasakyan pag nasisita ng police dahil meron ng probable cause,” he said.

According to Barbers, he has received reports that drug traffickers, due to the strict travel restrictions and ECQ, are now trying hard to unload their drug stockpile on their street level traffickers to fill up the high demand of their “clients” particularly those based in Metro Manila.

“Base sa mga impormasyon kong natatanggap, may malaking shortage sa supply ng droga sa kalye dahil sa ECQ laban sa COVID-19. At nitong mga nakaraang araw, maram ang lakas loob na tumatawid sa PNP checkpoints dahil tinitikitan lang sila at di tsini-check kung ano ang karga - kung may kontrabando ba o walang kanilang mga sasakyan,” he said.

“Nuong Lunes, nabalitaan at napanood ko sa mga TV footages ang dami ng sasakyan na tumatawid sa PNP checkpoints. Sita, tiket at walang bukasan ng trunks ng mga sasakyan. Sa dami ng mga violators, malaking posibilidad na ang ilan dito ay pasok sa transport ng droga. Walang search, eh,” he added.