By Jennifer Catan-Tilos
NEGROS ORIENTAL (PIA) – The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) here is set to form a joint task force at the Dumaguete City port area to intensify intelligence-gathering and security operations to prevent the entry of illegal drugs in the province.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported the proliferation of illegal drug supplies in Negros Oriental coming from Metro Manila, Mindanao, and Cebu heavily utilizing the Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) inter-island vessels.
It has been noted that the growing drug abuse problem in Dumaguete City and in the province is closely linked to the spate of shooting incidents.
Aside from its archipelagic location, Negros Oriental has 19 piers including 13 private and six public seaports, and this has become a problem to monitor in view of the limited resources of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
PPA representative Cenando Catalan cited the lack of closed-circuit television (CCTV) system, x-ray machines, and trained personnel to detect contraband or illegal drugs in the port terminal.
“We are only allowed to inspect rolling cargos in plain view although the Coast Guard is around with a canine unit,” Catalan explained.
However, provincial administrator Atty. Richard Enojo, in a PPOC meeting, clarified that the limitation to plain view applies only to checkpoints.
“When a person is riding in a public utility, he is submitting or surrendering his rights because the interest of the majority is more paramount than the right of one person,” Enojo explained.
“Any passenger in the port should be examined and every portion of the vehicles coming in and out should be checked to prevent any possible threats. So these are the things that we have not been doing and this is the way of escaping criminal liabilities,” said Enojo.
To pursue an intensive and relenting campaign against the use of dangerous drugs, the task force is set to come up with a plan to prevent the entry of illegal drugs in Dumaguete as well as in the province.
PPA is tasked to take the lead in guarding the port with the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP), PDEA, Philippine Coast Guard, National Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies.
Col. Dionardo Carlos of PNP said private vehicles have to pass through security inspections or detectors and its passengers have to disembark for screening.
The task force would also bring the Highway Patrol Group to check the status of the vehicle while the tourist police for the passengers, Col. Carlos said. (rmn/jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was originally posted at PIA website on Jan. 18, 2016)