A House leader on Tuesday urged the Philippine National Police to conduct thorough searches, particularly against illegal drugs, on all vehicles daringly violating community quarantines and passing through designated police checkpoints in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said that despite the government’s strict travel restrictions to prevent spread of COVID-19, huge volume of motorists are bravely passing through checkpoints without regard of 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 against the erring drivers and their vehicles,” he said.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Barbers said 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 and trunk ng sasakyan pag nasisita ng police dahil meron ng probable cause,” Barbers said.
The government has implemented an ECQ in Luzon up to April 30 and imposed strict travel restrictions to arrest the spread of COVID-19. The first lockdown was imposed on March 15 up to April 15.
Barbers also said he received reports that drug traffickers, due to the strict travel restrictions and ECQ, are now trying hard to unload their drug stockpile into street level traffickers to fill up the high demand of their “clients” particularly those based in Metro Manila.
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