NBI to probe ‘smuggling’ of people from NCR+

NBI to probe ‘smuggling’ of people from NCR+

MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday assured government action on alleged “smuggling” of persons amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent protocols being imposed in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces to contain Covid-19 cases surge.

“We’ll respond to the call of (Transportation) Secretary Art Tugade. I’ll direct the (National Bureau of Investigation) to look into these alleged incidents of ‘human smuggling’ and conduct a full-blown investigation if there is any indication that the practice is widespread,” Guevarra told reporters when sought for comment.

Tugade earlier described the scheme as “Covid-19 smuggling”, using closed vans and trucks to transport people outside Metro Manila to the non-ECQ areas where they will be fetched by commuter vans, raising concerns about the possibility of a new mode of Covid-19 transmission.

The announcement came after a video circulated on social media showing people inside a container truck with none of them wearing face masks somewhere between Quezon province and the Bicol region, roughly eight hours from Metro Manila.

Passengers, contacted through social media, are reportedly instructed to go to a pick-up point and are taken out of the NCR Plus bubble, which remains on lockdown until April 11.

Apart from Metro Manila, included in the NCR Plus areas are the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan. Benjamin Pulta / PNA – northboundasia.com