DICT urged to strictly supervise local couriers after drug bust

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A lawmaker has urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to toughen its supervision of courier service providers following the seizure of 12 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu from the regional warehouse of J&T Express in Cebu.

“We strongly suspect that traffickers might be moving illegal drugs increasingly through established courier firms, rather than via individual smugglers or mules, on account of foreign and domestic travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Cebu representative Eduardo Gullas

“We would urge the DICT to reinforce its regulatory oversight of all express and/or messengerial delivery service providers operating in the country,” Gullas said.

DICT records show that PH Global Jet Express, doing business as J&T Express, is one of the 110 private courier service providers authorized to operate in the country as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Following a sweep aided by sniffer dogs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) intercepted P81.6-million worth of shabu stashed in three boxes at J&T Express’ distribution hub in Mandaue City on Aug. 15.

It remains unclear whether the cartons came from overseas, or from another part of the country, but the PDEA has said it is already running after both the shipper and the consignee.

“If the shipment came from abroad, then the contraband slipped through the Bureau of Customs again,” Gullas said.

J&T Express is the same courier firm that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte earlier threatened to shut down after a viral video on social media showed some of its personnel mishandling packages.

Founded in Indonesia in 2015, J&T Express provides express delivery across Southeast Asia, according to the company’s website.

Under the law, the DICT has the exclusive power and authority to regulate the postal delivery services industry, or those engaged in domestic postal commerce, including those in the business of letter and parcel messengerial services, door-to-door delivery, or the transporting of the property of others that are similar to mail or parcel.

The DICT inherited this regulatory function from the Telecommunications Office (Telof), which used to be under the old Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

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