DOJ orders NBI to conduct parallel probe on smuggled P6.8-B shabu
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel investigation on the recent entry of shabu with an estimated amount of P6.8-billion that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
“I have directed the NBI to investigate the latest incidents of drug smuggling pursuant to our mandate under the policy of President [Rodrigo] Duterte against illegal drugs,” Guevarra said in a text message.
While Guevarra said they will consider all government agencies, Guevarra specifically mentioned the Bureau of Customs.
“Considering the huge value of the illegal drugs involved and the relative ease by which they were transported into Philippine territory, our investigation will consider all government agencies, particularly the BoC and private shippers, brokers, cargo handlers, warehousemen, even other law enforcement agents, who may have something to do with these unlawful acts,” Guevarra added.
Last Friday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) discovered magnetic lifters in Cavite similar to those containing 500 kilos of illegal drugs intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MCIP) in Manila last Tuesday.
However, upon inspection, the lifters discovered in Cavite are already empty.
PDEA believes that the four magnetic lifters contained 1,000 kilos with an estimated street value of P6.8-billion.
PDEA Director Aaron Aquino said law enforcers are continuously conducting backtracking investigation to determine the personalities involved in the operation.
“Initially, we have at least 19 persons of interest including 11 Chinese nationals. We cannot reveal their names yet because of our continuous operations,” Aquino said, adding the PDEA also obtained several documents, including various documents, checks, shipping documents, and CCTV footage.
Initial information revealed that the illegal drugs came from Taiwan, Republic of China and the syndicate only used Malaysia as trans-shipment point, Aquino said.
This is not the first time that a huge bulk of illegal drugs managed to slip past the BoC.
A similar incident involving smuggling of P6.4-billion shabu shipment hounded the BoC last year that led to criminal investigation against former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
Faeldon resigned from his post in the BoC and was reappointed as deputy administrator of Office of Civil Defense last January.
The NBI, however, did not investigate that case reportedly due to a Palace memorandum that tapped the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as sole agency in drug-related operations and case build-ups.
But since the NBI has been allowed to resume its anti-narcotics operations late last year, it is now allowed to again conduct fact-finding probe on drug cases, Guevarra explained.
If warranted, he ordered the bureau to file charges against those who will be found criminally liable for the drug smuggling. /je
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