BAGUIO CITY— A total of nine marijuana couriers, believed to have been paid to pose as tourists from Metro Manila, was recently arrested in separate operations in Ifugao and Kalinga, authorities said on Tuesday.
Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR) Regional Director Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson reported the arrest of the seven suspects in Ifugao and two in Kalinga, all of whom came from Metro Manila. for illegal transport of marijuana.
Facing illegal transport of marijuana are Jerick Villacorte Crisostomo, 36, of Mata Extension, Tondo, Manila; Reniel dela Cruz Espinosa, 23, student; Daniel Urbano Gavino Tejada, 22; both from Taguig City; Titus Jacob Tallada, 20, student, of Sta. Mesa, Manila; Joshua Pagador Dacillo, 19, student; Reynaldo Tinagan Jerez Jr., 19; both of San Jose, Del Monte, Bulacan; and a 17-year-old male student from Fairview, Quezon.
The seven were on board a CODA bus from Sagada, Mountain Province and were bound for Cubao in Quezon City. They were arrested at a checkpoint in Viewpoint, Banaue, Ifugao on July 21.
During an inspection, a total of 14 bricks and 4 tubular dried marijuana leaves worth PHP2.015 million were confiscated from the group.
In the evening of the same day, Delfher Jay Navarrete Abancia, 24; and Zamier Galo, 22, Grade 11 student of Malate Catholic School, both residents of Adriatico St., Malate, Manila were nabbed at a checkpoint at Talaca, Agbannawag, Tabuk City, Kalinga while onboard a Victory Liner Bus from Tabuk City to Manila.
Seized from them were 15 bricks and stalks of dried marijuana leaves, a pack of elongated rolls or tubular dried marijuana leaves and a medium-size plastic bag containing crushed dried marijuana leaves and stalks worth PHP1.88 million.
“Marami na kaming natatanggap na report na binabayaran sila para maging turista at pagbalik sa Metro Manila ay may dala na sila namarijuana (We have received several reports that there are young people who are paid to pose as tourists to visit the Cordillera but bring with them marijuana when they return to Metro Manila),” Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera Administrative Region (PDEA-CAR) information officer Rosel Sarmiento told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
“Dahil sa malaking bayad sa kanila at nakakapasyal pa sila (Because they are paid with a large amount of money, they can still visit and see the tourist destinations),” Sarmiento said.
Sarmiento said the modus operandi has been popular in the recent months as can be proven by the several arrests made by the Philippine National Police, PDEA and other law enforcement agencies.
“Transporters used to be arrested in checkpoints, most of the men who are of age but due to the arrests during checkpoint operations, the modus operandi shifted to sending young people in tourist destinations for a fee,” Sarmiento said. Liza Agoot / PNA – northboundasia.com