NBI enters shabu fray

Enough talk, now let’s look at the evidence.

With the unending barrage of charges and counter-charges between Customs and anti-drug officials, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered yesterday the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step into the picture.

Guevarra gave the marching order to NBI chief Dante Gierran to ferret out the truth whether or not P6.8 billion worth of shabu indeed slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BoC) last August.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino remained steadfast in his belief that the missing shabu was hidden in the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite.

Shabu hidden in two such lifters intercepted by the BoC at the Manila International Container Port fuelled PDEA’s belief that twice as much shabu entered the country compared with what the BoC confiscated.

Commissioner Isidro Lapeña was involved in a cover-up, according to his detractors, including Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, deputy director for passenger service at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Mangaoang claimed the BoC commissioner did not act on intelligence reports regarding the entry of drugs into the country. But Lapeña denied allegations of his involvement in the supposed cover-up of the drug smuggling.

In a press briefing held at the Port of Manila, Lapeña hinted that drug syndicates may be to blame against the recent “propaganda” against the BoC.

“It is a fact that the drug syndicates have penetrated the government. They exist in the BoC, they exist in PDEA and they exist in other branches of the government,” said Lapeña.

He stressed the issue being thrown against BoC is intended to divert attention from drug traders and to force Customs personnel to be on defensive.

“The issue on X-rays and all these noises are smokes and mirrors and technicalities being used to divert the public from the main issue. We should refocus. Even the President, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte revealed the personalities behind the government drug syndicate. This is where we should drive our focus and energies—- file cases against these personalities.”

Moreover, Lapeña noted that he has no bad blood against the anti-drug chief. He said both of them had been “misled.”

“Let us together fight the syndicate,” he said.

with Raymart T. Lolo

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