By Mike U. Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – The regional command of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) yesterday placed on temporary hold the undeclared container van with chemicals that was unloaded by an inter-island cargo vessel at Masao Port, Lumbocan, Butuan City on Friday.
The discovery of the undeclared container van fully loaded with chemicals took place when a concerned port worker (name withheld) reported to police authorities the bad smell inside the container van.
A police team found that the undeclared container van was loaded with 100 sacks of chemical (mono ammonium phosphate), semi refine wax and slack wax.
Initial investigation conducted by the BCPO-Station 3, together with the personnel of 13th Civil Security Unit (CSU 13), showed that at 8 a.m. on Thursday a container van loaded with undeclared chemical was transported through a cargo vessel of Escaño Lines Inc. via sea freight from Manila to Butuan City with final destination to Talacogon, Agusan del Sur.
According to some officials from the military and police intelligence community, the said chemicals could be used not only for agricultural purposes but also as component in bomb-making.
PRO 13 regional director Chief Supt. Rolando B. Felix ordered BCPO city director Senior Supt. Percival Augustus Placer to thoroughly investigate the origin and point of destination of the chemicals.
“The owner must be identified and thoroughly investigated while determining the usage and its purpose,” the region’s police stated in his directive.
As of this posting, personnel from BCPO together with Civil Security Unit 13 (CSU 13), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coast Guard and 13th Maritime Group 13 are joining hands in investigating the status of the said chemicals.
This composite probe team is also set to conduct laboratory test on the said chemicals.
A member of the probe team who requested anonymity said the container van loaded with chemicals could only be released if it is found for agricultural use only and the owner can present proper transport documents.
The chemicals are in the temporary custody of Philippine Ports Authority here.
The regional command of PRO 13 down to its lower units is on heightened alert following the crisis in Marawi City siege.
There would be heightened security in all sea ports, airports and regional boarders as well as more checkpoints in different strategic places in order to block the entry of terrorist groups and lawless elements in the region.
More police would be deployed to the main thoroughfares, malls, bus and jeepney terminals and other public places in this region’s premier and capital city of Butuan.
Tags: Butuan City, chemicals, Manila Bulletin, Masao Port, Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13, Undeclared container van, Undeclared container van found loaded with chemicals in Butuan City