MANILA - The rampant narcotics trade is closely tied with car theft incidents in the country, a crime watchdog claimed Thursday.
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) spokesperson Arsenio Evangelista said drug rings and other crime syndicates only use stolen vehicles in their illegal activities.
"Ang carnapping and illegal drugs po, magkadikit po iyan... Lahat ng major crime threat sa ating bansa, ang ginagamit po ay carnapped vehicles," Evangelista said in a DZMM interview.
"Common sense would tell us na hindi ka gagamit ng auto o sasakyan na naka-rehistro po sa inyo."
He added that like convicted drug lords, leaders of carjack groups continue to hold power even from behind bars at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).
As an example, Evangelista pointed to the murders of state witness Alfred Mendiola and Bulacan Judge Wilfredo Nieves, who were both involved in the conviction of car theft gang leader Raymond Dominguez.
Police said vengeance was the motive for the 2012 killing of Mendiola after he testified against Dominguez, his former boss.
A gunman, meanwhile, said Dominguez planned the slay of Nieves in November 2015, while serving his sentence at the NBP's Maximum Security Compound.
Nieves sentenced Dominguez to 30 years in prison in 2012. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judge's decision in the same year.
CRACKDOWN VS CARJACKING
Evangelista said it is time that government steps up its efforts to suppress car theft incidents.
The VACC spokesperson backed a re-opening of the investigation into a "blue book" that lists down names of alleged big time drug pushers and carjackers in the country.
The blue book was obtained during a raid by the Philippine National Police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in 2011.
It remains in the custody of DILG, Evangelista said.
NEW ANTI-CARNAPPING LAW
The VACC also hailed the new and comprehensive Anti-Carnapping Act, which recently lapsed into law.
Evangelista said stiffer penalties against carjack groups are needed considering the recent spate of attacks directed against vehicle owners and drivers of rental cars.
"May mga modus na pinapatay, minsan talagang tino-torture pa so talagang nakakabahala," he said.
Republic Act (RA) No. 10883, which was sponsored by Senator Grace Poe, lapsed into law after former President Benigno Aquino III failed to either sign or veto it.
The new law repeals RA 6539 or The Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972.
It makes car theft a non-bailable crime, and increases the length of imprisonment from a maximum of 17 years and four months, to around 20 to 30 years in jail.
The law also penalizes the sale of stolen car parts, as well as double registration of vehicles.