Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Subic steps up drive against smuggling

SUBIC BAY Freeport: It seems like officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) had learned their lesson after the alleged attempt by suspected drug lord Anthony Ang to smuggle some P14 billion worth of shabu last year.

Over the weekend SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said they have already finished the first phase of added security at its seaport to closely monitor incoming and outgoing vessel in an effort to prevent smuggling in this Freeport.

Some of this security features, according to Arreza, include surveillance equipment like radars and closed circuit television CCTV system that will provide 24/7 monitoring of Subics piers and docks.

He added that by providing cameras at all ports of Subic, SBMA through its seaport department could now easily monitor the movement of all vessels.

SBMA, according to Arreza, has also implemented the Vehicle Management Tracking System (VMTS) that requirer vessels to have a GPRS system in order for them to enter Subic waters.

Arreza explained that once a vessel is suspected to have departed without notice, the protocol is to immediately contact the SBMA Harbor Patrol or the Philippine Coast Guard to intercept the boat.

Before we have to rely on the captains of each ship to inform us their location and who they are, now if they have a GPRS we can easily monitor where they are and we can identify the vessels in an instant, Arreza explained.

Close monitoring is basically our key requirement. Thats why we want a modern maritime set-up, said Arreza, who previously outlined the same plan to the House committee on dangerous drugs.

Unfortunately, according to Arreza, the system (VMTS) was only turned over to SBMA in June 2008, a month short of the shabu smuggling incident.

The suspected drug lord in one of the biggest drug hauls on record, Anthony Ang, remains at large and is the subject of a massive manhunt by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Ageny, Presidential Anti Smuggling Group and other government agencies. --Anthony Bayarong - Manila Times

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