THE Philippine National Police yesterday called anew on the public to immediately report to authorities the presence of rogues in uniform and other government employees who are extorting from motorists and drivers of delivery trucks and vans, specifically those manning already banned stationary checkpoints in highways and other major thoroughfares.
Information may particularly be forwarded to 0998-970-2286, the 24-hour hotline of the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force headed by Senior Superintendent Romeo M. Caramat Jr. so that the report may be validated and actual interdictions be undertaken in case they are proven to be accurate, said PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde.
Last week, the PNP chief ordered the dismantling of all stationary police and other government checkpoints in the country amid complaints that they are being used to mulct from motorists and drivers of delivery trucks and vans.
The order came amid a directive from President Duterte who had also aired his concern over mulcting activities taking place in these checkpoints following a meeting with the country’s rice traders last April.
In a memorandum to all 17 Police Regional Office directors, the PNP chief ordered them and the PNP Highway Patrol Group to remove and dismantle all checkpoints in their areas of responsibility immediately including those established in the highways and other thoroughfares by local government units, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other agencies.
Also target of the order are checkpoints being manned by officers and deputized agents of the Land Transportation Office and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Many police officials told the Journal Group that they have been receiving numerous complaints about irregularities taking place in checkpoints being manned by LTO and DPWH personnel. Some LTO personnel have gained notoriety for flagging down motorists and drivers of delivery trucks and threatening them with all kinds of charges if they won’t pay.
On the other hand, some DPWH personnel manning weighing stations have gained notoriety too for mulcting from drivers of supposed to be overloaded trucks. Although they are not equipped by weighing equipment or are not in so-called weigh bridges, these DPWH personnel would claim that the trucks are overloaded despite protests from drivers.
Supposed to be, cargo trucks with heavy load such as cement, gravel and steel should be weighed as soon as they leave their warehouses. However, the obvious lack of DPWH weighing equipment has contributed to the never-ending cases of overloaded trucks figuring in deadly road crashes as a result of overloading, mechanical trouble or driver’s error.
Gen. Albayalde said law enforcement and mobile checkpoint operations shall be within the discretion of the concerned regional directors.
Control points leading to major tourist areas in the country like in Panglao, Bohol will also remain to protect foreign and domestic tourists and local residents since they are located in highways which are not the main supply routes for rice and basic commodities.
Officers manning these control points are known to have apprehended con artists and other members of syndicates preying on tourists. Apart from that, they are being used to screen people who are possibly carrying illegal weapons.
The PNP chief said they are ready to help other concerned government agencies ensure the unhampered supply of relief goods and other basic supplies in the market.