MANILA - Drivers of ride-hailing applications have become unknowing conduits in the drug trade by being made to deliver illicit goods, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency claimed Monday.
Companies such as Grab and Uber offer doorstep express deliveries using cars and motorbikes which are covered by insurance and real-time tracking and notification alerts, noted PDEA.
The agency issued the advisory after investigation showed that suspected drug dealer Jovet Atillano, 32, hired drivers of transport network vehicle services (TNVS) in "delivering illegal drugs concealed inside packages right at the doorsteps of his customers."
Atillano was arrested in a buy-bust operation in a condominium unit in Mandaluyong City.
"Before they know it, the drivers have become unwitting couriers of illegal drugs. We are urging TNVS drivers and operators to exercise due diligence to ensure that they will not be used to transport any contraband,” PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in a statement.
Uber has communicated to its driver partners "to be cautious and to only fulfill trips with riders," Head of Communications Catherine Avelino told ABS-CBN News.
Grab Philippines Government Communication Manager Fiona Nicolas meanwhile deferred giving a statement, saying instead that its executives may be asked to react on this when they go to Camp Crame on Tuesday morning.
Aquino said drug syndicates register using fake names and pre-activated SIM cards "to avoid detection in case the delivery went amiss and intercepted by authorities."
"Unaware, the poor driver will likely suffer the dire consequences,” he added.
The agency said it was seeking the assistance of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the transport network companies to stop this new trend of drug trafficking.
-- Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News