By Zaldy Comanda
CAMP DANGWA, Benguet – Three local tourists, who tried to transport P6.3-million worth dried marijuana out of Bontoc, Mt. Province, were intercepted by a team of anti-narcotics operatives Saturday evening.
Cordillera Police Regional Office Director Brig. Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan identified the arrested drug couriers as Noli Bendoy Navalez, Wilfredo De Leon Magbanua and Mary Grace Nepomuceno Lunas, all residents of Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Pagkalinawan said, the suspects were on board a car travelling from Bontoc when they were intercepted on the Bontoc-Banaue road in Sitio Finew, Barangay Samoki.
Seized from the suspects were 53 bricks of dried marijuana leaves with an estimated street value of P6.36 million.
The operation was conducted by combined elements of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Cordillera, PDEA Mimaropa (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan), Cordillera and Mountain Province police, as well as the municipal stations of Sandanga and Bontoc.
The suspects were also in possession of various documents such as travel authority, medical certificates and quarantine passes which they allegedly used to pass through strict quarantine checkpoints from Cavite to Mountain Province. Authorities are still verifying the veracity of the documents.
Criminal cases are being prepared against the suspects for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. They are also being investigated for possible breach of quarantine protocols.