MANILA – Vice President Leni Robredo called on the government to investigate the alleged smuggling of P11 million worth of shabu into the country via magnetic lifters found already empty in Cavite.
Transferring to another agency any official who could be held accountable is not enough, Robredo said on Saturday.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency insisted that the magnetic lifters contained shabu that are already circulating in the Philippines but then Bureau of Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña this claim was without basis.
Lapeña later backpedaled and said he believes the magnetic lifters indeed contained shabu.
“Sa wakas, sumangayon na rin si … Lapeña sa pahayag ng PDEA na ginamit ang mga lifters para magpasok ng tinatantiyang 11 bilyon pisong halaga ng shabu sa Pilipinas,” said Robredo.
“Ngayong malinaw na nakalusot ang ganito kalaking shipment ng shabu sa BOC (Bureau of Customs), kailangang sundan na ito agad ng malalim at seryosong imbestigasyon ng lahat ng may kinalamang opisyal,” she said.
Last Thursday President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Lapeña would be transferred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority amid a congressional inquiry into the alleged shabu smuggling.
Duterte also fired all Customs’ deputy commissioners and “freezed” the agency’s department heads.
He appointed former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Rey Guerrero to take over Lapeña’s post.
The PDEA initially estimated the shabu shipment allegedly contained in the magnetic lifters found in Cavite to be worth P6.8 billion but revised this last Thursday and pegged the value at P11 billion.
Lourdes Mangaoang, former Customs X-ray Inspection Project chief, accused Lapeña of covering up for drug smugglers when the latter denied that the magnetic lifters the PDEA found empty in Cavite in August contained shabu.
Lapeña refuted this claim and said drug syndicates may be behind a “demolition job” against him.
On Friday Malacañang vouched for the integrity and competence of Lapeña.
“We maintain that drug syndicates, in cahoots with the bureau’s corrupt officials and employees, are behind the ongoing vilification campaign against Mr. Isidro Lapeña,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
According to Robredo, the entry of drugs in the Philippines poses a bigger problem compared to the administration’s war on drugs.
“Kahit gaano pa kabagsik ang pagpapatupad ng ‘war on drugs’ kung tuloy ang pasok ng shabu sa Pilipinas, lalo na’t kung nailulusot ito sa [Customs], hindi matatapos ang problema natin sa droga,” she said.
She added: “Simple lang naman dapat ang ating susunding polisiya: Kung walang drug supply, walang drug addict. Umaasa tayo na kikilusan agad ng pamahalaan ang isyung ito.” (GMA News)