Resigned Customs intel chief vows to fight raps
Resigned Customs intelligence chief Neil Anthony Estrella on Tuesday said he found “intriguing” President Duterte’s lukewarm reaction to the controversy surrounding the seizure of P6.4-billion worth of illegal drugs.
Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, the President’s eldest son, has been linked to the recovery of the drug shipment, regarded as the largest haul of smuggled drugs in the country.
The shipment of 605 kilograms of “shabu” (crystal meth) from China was able to pass through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) before it was seized in a warehouse in Valenzuela City, during a raid led by Estrella on May 26.
Speaking in a press briefing, a defiant Estrella vowed to fight off any attempt to put him behind bars for allegedly conspiring with Faeldon and several others for sneaking in the illegal drugs into the country as claimed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
He said he would rather be a fugitive from justice than spend a single minute in prison for “something I did not do.”
“The case filed against us is nonbailable. This is no joke. It carries a sentence of life imprisonment. I will not spend my life in jail for things I did not commit,” Estrella said.
“If we end up in jail, then there’s no more justice in our country. That’s unacceptable to the Filipino people,” he said. “I spent more than 20 years in government service. My morale has never been this low.”
Estrella described as “a malicious mix of inaccuracies and half-truths” the PDEA complaint filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sept. 19 against the shipment’s importers and cargo forwarders, as well as the BOC and the National Bureau of Investigation personnel who participated in the operation to seize the shipment and apprehend the responsible parties.
Estrella said he received early this week the subpoena to appear in a preliminary hearing before the DOJ panel of prosecutors on Oct. 5.
After formally receiving a copy of the PDEA’s complaint during the hearing, he said he will file a counteraffidavit with prayer for the dismissal of the complaint against the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service members.
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