As traffickers turn to TNS firms for ‘delivery,’ PDEA teams up with Uber, GRAB vs illegal drugs

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Marijuana seized in Bulacan is seen in file photo. A GRAB driver who was left holding two sealed packages for delivery brought them to barangay officials, who discovered marijuana bricks. Transport network firms like GRAB have partnered with PDEA and LTFRB to stop the use by crime syndicates of the TNS.

MANILA – Officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and transport network companies like UBER, GRAB and i-Hop signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) vowing to team up in fighting illegal drugs, amid rising cases of TNC drivers being victimized by drug dealers.

Authorities had noted a trend to use unwitting TNC drivers to deliver “packages” that turn out to have illegal drugs.

Just last January 8, GRAB driver Lester Velasquez was almost victimized by a client.

Velasquez went to Makati to pick up a package from a client. When he arrived at the site, he saw two packages that were well-sealed and with Chinese characters, so he asked the client to open them.

The client refused to open the packages and suddenly left, leaving the packages with Velasquez.

The GRAB driver decided to bring the packages at once to barangay officials, who opened them and discovered four kilos of marijuana inside, supposedly for delivery to a certain Hwang Lu in Pasay City.

According to PDEA, criminals find it easier to use TNC drivers as couriers, because authorities would find it hard to track them, and the drivers do not know them directly.

Under the memorandum signed by the agency heads Wednesday, TNCs will draw up policies to better cooperate with PDEA, including tighter rules on TNC drivers accepting packages for delivery.

Detailed records of the companies of clients will also be required.

For its part, LTFRB will add training sessions to its LTFRB school.

PDEA will form a working group to monitor compliance with the MOU.

Those who wish to report incidents to PDEA were encouraged to call the agency’s 24/7 hotline at these numbers: 0925-743-5177, 0923-800-3250, 0917-532-7332, 927-9702 loc. 171 at 0939-854-8341

Signing the MOU were Uber systems Inc. general manager Laurence Cua , LTFRB chairman Atty. Martin Delgra III, PDEA director general Aaron Aquino, and My Taxi Inc. country manager Brian Cu.