Tugade calls on gov't agencies, LGUs to fight 'COVID-19 smuggling’

Last week Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade made a firm call to all concerned agencies to curb what he call “COVID-19 smuggling” after a video that went viral on social media showed some trucking companies and colorum vehicles engaging in illegal activities by bringing untested people into the “National Capital Region Plus” bubble.


The transportation secretary made the call following the circulation of the video, reportedly taken in Southern Luzon, showing a truckload of commuters being helped to get inside the vans for transport.


Based on the reports that Tugade received, closed vans and trucks are bringing these people into the borders of Metro Manila in exchange for cash. Once at the borders, the “smuggled” people will then be fetched by commuter vans.


Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade


The secretary did not mince words in expressing his anger.


Nakita ko ang video na ‘yun. Anong masasabi ko? Pu* nila! Bakit nila gagawin ‘yan? Hindi nila alam na kinukomprumiso at nilalagay nila sa alanganin ang kalusugan at kabuhayan ng mga tao sa kapaligiran at sambayanan (I saw the video. What can I say about it? [Expletive> Why are they doing that? Don't they know that they are putting at risk the health and livelihood of the people around them and the general public as a whole)?” Tugade said.


According to Tugade, the operation is “a clear violation of health protocols (and) must be stopped immediately,” calling the related agencies such as the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT), the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) and the various local government units.


“These things must not be tolerated. Let’s move strong on this! Kapag huhulihin natin ‘yang mga ‘yan, tawagin natin yung LTO and LTFRB, ‘yung I-ACT, ‘yung Highway Patrol, ‘yung LGU, ‘yung ka-pulisan. Dapat itigil ito. Kinukomprumiso nila ang buong sambayanan. Lahat ng paghihirap natin sa testing, isolation at treatment mawawala dahil dito sa kaga***uhan at kalokohan na ginagawa nito. (Let's call on the LTO, LTFRB, I-ACT, Highway Patrol Group, the LGUs and the police force. This has to stop. They are compromising the public's safety. All that we are painstakingly working on with the testing, isolation and treatment will be put to waste with the wrongdoings being done),” Tugade added.


DOTr Show Cause Order on vehicle owner and its driver


Following this, the Land Transportation Office has issued a Show Cause Order (SCO) against the registered owner of the truck identified as Marlon Ramos and the driver of the vehicle used in facilitating the transport last April 4. They are expected to file their explanation today before the LTO Region 5, as order by LTO Law Enforcement Service Acting Director Clarence Guinto.


In relation, the DOTr said that they have caught 12 colorum vehicles during the Holy Week break and that data from I-ACT show that from January to March 2021, 153 colorum vehicles were already apprehended in the Greater Metro Manila Area.


“Nananawagan ako sa aking mga kapwa Pilipino—maaari lang po ba itigil ninyo ito. Okay na maghanap-buhay kagaya ng sinasabi ko naman na maghanap-buhay tayo, pero ‘wag tayong kumitil ng buhay. Ayon ‘ho ang magandang paghahanap-buhay, "I'm calling on fellow Filipinos to stop this practice. It's okay to look for livelihood, just as I'm telling you that we should all work, but let's not endanger lives. That is a good way to make a living). ” he said.


Photos from Department of Transportation Facebook Page


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