TASK Force Davao has again reminded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to beef up its security measures at Sasa wharf after the discovery of almost 16 kilos of high-grade cocaine slabs in December.

Even before the cocaine discovery, military officials in the region have already called the attention of the BOC regarding its alleged laxity in inspecting empty container vans.

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This was, however, denied by the BOC, saying it is enforcing strict monitoring on all container vans that enter the region, only to be proven as false by the cocaine discovery.

In his February 2, 2010 letter to BOC Port of Davao district collector Anju Nereo Castigador, Task Force chief Colonel Oscar Lactao inquired about BOC's security measures to prevent the entry of explosives and other dangerous contrabands.

"With regards to Sasa Wharf, the incident that transpired last December 2009 wherein kilograms of cocaine were found inside empty container vans deeply concerns us, as it could definitely be used as entry point for explosives or other dangerous contrabands as well. Hence, may we inquire from your good office an update on the systems and procedures that have been instituted (such as deployment of K9's, X-Ray machines, modification of inspection procedures, etc.) to prevent repeat of such incident? Said systems and procedures would be incorporated in our review in the end objective of improving our overall security set-up," Lactao said in his letter to BOC.

It was learned that Task Force Davao is in the process of reviewing collective response to include tactics, techniques and procedures against the threat of terrorism.

Being the lead agency in the city's "Oplan Laban sa Terorismo," the task force is trying to identify gaps in the campaign plan and eventually formulate operational procedures to eliminate or limit the security risks.

Sasa wharf was one of those hit by terrorism way back in 2003, along with Davao International Airport, in its old site in Sasa, wherein 37 people died and 219 others were wounded. Davao Overland Transport Terminal is also in this category.

At present, empty containers are only required to be "half-opened" so that inspectors could easily check if it is indeed empty or not.

Authorities suspect that it is not only illegal drug that's being smuggled into the region. There is a high possibility of bombs and other contrabands being sneaked into the region if the authorities remain complacent as they are now. (BOT)