Ex-BOC intel chief prefers to hide than spend time in jail
Former Customs intelligence chief Neil Estrella on Tuesday said he would prefer to be a fugitive than spend time in jail in connection with the P6.4-billion drug smuggling charges filed against him.
“Sa ngayon, ‘nung nakita ko yung kaso, nakita ko ang parusa niyan, makukulong ako habang-buhay, hindi po ako magpapakulong diyan,” Estrella said in a press conference in Manila.
(For now, when I learned about the case and the penalty for it is life imprisonment, I will never let myself to go to jail.)
When asked by the media if he would evade arrest once the court orders his arrest and eventual imprisonment, he said: “Ganun na nga siguro.”
The former Bureau of Customs (BOC) official said in jest that he would hide in the city than go to the mountains.
“‘Wag naman pong mamundok, pwede namang magtago sa syudad eh, papahirapan ko pa sarili ko sa bundok,” he said.
(No, not the mountains, I can manage hiding in the city, why punish myself in the mountains.)
“‘Yan po sinasabi ng puso ko, parang hindi ko matatanggap na makulong sa isang bagay na hindi ko ginawa. Na kabaliktaran, na dapat nga e, dapat nga sinasabi ko sayo e…. kinulong ka pa. E talagang wala nang hustisya sa ating bansa ‘pag nangyari po iyon,” he added.
(That is what my heart is saying, I can’t seemingly accept that I will be jailed for something I did not commit. When in fact it should be the other way around and that I should have told you, but you’ll get jailed for it. Really, we don’t get justice in this country when that happens.)
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) accused Estrella, Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon, and 10 others of conspiracy to import the illegal drugs and protecting drug traffickers, in violation of the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
The agency also accused the BOC officials of obstruction of justice for “harboring, concealing or facilitating the escape” of those behind the 605-kilo shipment, which is a nonbailable offense.
Estrella vehemently denied the accusations and said he would seek the Department of Justice’s dismissal of the case. /jpv