Tourism a convenient cover for weed trade, Mountain Province mayor says

Artemio Dumlao - Philstar.com
Tourism a convenient cover for weed trade, Mountain Province mayor says
In this photo from the Banaue municipal police, officers process the suspects who were caught at a checkpoint with around P1.8 million worth of dried marijuana leaves.
Philippine National Police - Banaue Facebook page

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Tourism has become a convenient cover for the drug trade in the Cordillera region, a mayor of a town in Mountain Province said.

Citing the arrests of people posing as tourists in order to buy and transport marijuana, Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan said that tourism within the Tinglayan, Kalinga-Bontoc-Sagada, Mountain Province route is becoming a good cover for the marijuana trade.

"The fast increasing number of apprehension, and most likely more 'un-apprehended' ones within these areas show that many 'tourists' frequent these places to buy marijuana either in raw leaves or in processed form as oil or 'chocolate'," the mayor said.

That is why, Ganggangan said, the local government is never promoting tourism in Sadanga.

It been observed, he said, that many tourists who have been apprehended for marijuana were on their return trip from the places where the said route passes.

The latest apprehension only last week along the Bontoc, Mountain Province-Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga Road reveals a well-organized syndicate from Metro Manila which involves even minors as couriers. 

On February 27, 2020, anti-drug operatives nabbed two residents of Antipolo City over 4.1 kilos of marijuana bricks worth P420,000 discoevered at a checkpoint in Barangay Anabel, Sadanga town.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera said that drug couriers now transact directly with marijuana dealers in the Cordillera region.

Drug dealers usually pose as tourists pretending to visit places or to see famous traditional tattoo artist Apo Whang-od (Maria Oggay).

"What ever benefits derived from tourism is not worth the damage this marijuana trade and probably other illegal drug trade is inflicting to the public," Ganggangan said.

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