BOC: 4 magnetic lifters in Cavite tested negative for shabu
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has contradicted the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Tuesday, saying the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite tested negative for shabu.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino earlier said he believed that P6.8 billion worth of shabu was previously contained in the four magnetic lifters they discovered in a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite province on Aug. 9.
He said the magnetic lifters found in Cavite were similar to the two magnetic lifters containing 500 kilograms of shabu worth P4.3 million, which the BOC seized on Aug. 7. The two lifters were found inside an abandoned container van at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
But during a House hearing into the alleged drug smuggling issue, Customs Chief Isidro Lapeña said they conducted swab tests on the magnetic lifters from Cavite and they tested negative from shabu.
“On the discovery of four empty magnetic lifters in Cavite, PDEA alleged that the magnetic lifters contained 1 ton of shabu worth P6.8 billion and passed through Customs,” Lapeña recounted.
“On Aug. 9 the PNP SOCO team PDEA, chemists and the Bureau of Customs processed the crime scene, the four pieces of magnetic lifters including the aluminum foils in the area were swabbed and examined for its possible presence of shabu but this yielded negative result for the presence of dangerous drugs,” he continued.
The BOC chief stressed that Aquino’s allegation that 1 ton of shabu was circulating in the market has “no basis.”
“As government authorities, we have to be prudent in providing unverified information to the general public to allay further fear or confusion,” he added.
But in the same hearing, which Aquino did not attend due to an important commitment, PDEA Officer-in-Charge Deputy Director General for Operation Atty. Ruel Lasala said they would stand by their assessment, while admitting that they did not see the actual drugs in the lifters found in Cavite.
“Wala talaga kamingnakitang droga,” he said, when asked by Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo.
But when pressed if PDEA was willing to admit their mistake with their earlier assessment, Lasala stood his ground.
“We join the director general na drugs ang laman ng mechanical lifter na ‘yun, ‘yun ang assessment namin taking into consideration all the evidence and indicators we saw.
The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs has also decided to send a “strongly-worded” letter to Aquino, compelling him to appear at the hearing.
PDEA vs BOC
The shipment found at the MICP was consigned to Vecaba Trading International and was classified as abandoned after sitting at the port for a month, while the Cavite lifters were consigned to SMYD Trading.
Lasala has noted that aside from the “circumstantial evidence” pointing to the similarities between the Cavite lifters and the MICP shipment, their K9 unit also “sat” beside the Cavite lifters, indicating that it could have contained illegal drugs.
He also explained that Aquino arrived at the P6.8 billion estimated value of the alleged shabu through the weight of the magnetic lifters.
But BOC official Zsae De Guzman, who earlier subjected the shipment to an X-ray inspection, said illegal drugs were not detected.
Lapeña said the X-ray examination result and the negative swab test were reasons why the BOC “cannot ascertain if these (Cavite lifters) contained shabu.” /muf
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