Bicol officials deny 'tanim droga' at Naga checkpoints
MANILA, Philippines – At least two local offices in Bicol Region denied a claim that some law enforcement agencies supposedly "plant" illegal drugs ("tanim droga" in Filipino) in vehicles at checkpoints in Naga City, Camarines Sur.
This is supposedly to "prove" that Bicol – or Naga City in particular – is the "source of illegal drugs," as claimed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Screenshots of the "chain message" containing that claim went around in social media on Saturday, September 1.
A translation of the message written in Bicolano read:
"There will be checkpoints tomorrow from 7 am to 10 pm held by police and intelligence officers. This is to prove that Bicol is the source of drugs as Duterte stated. There will also be checkpoints in alternate routes.
Offices involved are 48 teams of HPG (Highway Patrol Group), LTO (Land Transportation Office), PSO (Public Safety Office of Naga City), PNP (Philippine National Police), LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board), 3 teams of LTO. Remind your friends of this because it is pitiful for them to have drugs planted on them.
This was just passed on to me! Better be safe!"
A Naga City official and at least one government agency posted on their respective Facebook accounts and pages to deny this rumor.
Naga's City Events, Protocol, and Public Information Office (CEPPIO) head Allen Reondanga posted a screenshot of the chain message, then said there is "no truth" to the "tanim droga" claim.
"While of course there will be unannounced random scheduled checkpoints on various days that will be undertaken by various agencies in the city as part of our security preparations for the Peñafrancia Fiesta," said Reondanga, "there is no truth however to this circulating information that it will be for the purpose of planting drugs."
"We assure the public that all actions of our law enforcement agencies will be within the bounds of law," he added.
The same message was posted in the CEPPIO's official Facebook page, Naga Smiles to the World.
The LTO in Bicol Region also said that the supposed "tanim droga" plan is not true.
LTO-Bicol added that it has set up "motorist assistance centers" around Naga City as part of its "Oplan Ligtas Biyahe" for the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
LTO-Bicol is based in Legazpi City, Albay. It has a district office in Naga City.
President Duterte claimed in a speech on August 14 that Naga City is a shabu "hotbed."
The PNP later said that Naga City has the highest average monthly crime rate among 36 cities with its own city police offices, which are more independent from provincial police offices as compared to city police stations. (READ: Is your city safe? Understanding PNP crime statistics)
Earlier, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde stumbled in his claim that Naga City "consistently ranked number 5" among the same cities in terms of crime volume, when he was actually reading from an unsorted table. (READ: WRONG: 'Naga top 5 city in crime volume')
The cities were not arranged based on crime volume but by region. Naga City is in Bicol or Region 5. – Michael Bueza with Miguel Imperial/Rappler.com