Customs X-rays can be manipulated, says BOC official
The X-ray image results of shipments that go through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) can be deliberately “darkened’ to hide smuggled contents, a customs official said on Wednesday.
Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Deputy Collector for Passenger Service at the BOC, revealed this as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee continues its probe on the alleged P6.8 billion worth of shabu (chrystal meth) that slipped through the country.
“I know it can be darkened… and it can be lightened,” she said during the hearing. She noted, however, that only the color can be changed while the shape and other aspects of the image cannot be altered.
The X-ray machines can also capture the image of content of the magnetic lifters but cannot detect whether they are illegal drugs, said Gao Peng from Nuctech, the manufacturer of the X-ray machines being used by the BOC.
He said an expert is needed to identify the content of a shipment.
Meanwhile, testimonies during the hearing revealed that seven Chinese men arrived in July at the warehouse in Cavite where the magnetic lifters that could have contained the alleged shabu were discovered on August 9.
A certain Roy Wang, Mr. Shu, and other Chinese nationals allegedly rented the warehouse, according to Robert Cantemprate, son of Vicenta Cantemprate who owns the facility. He said the foreigners were supposed to arrive at the warehouse on May 12 but only went to the facility on July 13.
Warehouseman Eric Rodelas said he saw one of the men using a grinder to open the magnetic lifters when they arrived. He said they stayed inside the facility for several hours, afterwhich they ordered him and other warehousemen to lock the gate properly.
Rodelas said the containers had been emptied when they next checked the warehouse.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said it implies that the lifters could have contained a suspicious content.
“Ano iyong gina-grinder? Samakatuwid, may laman (What was being opened by the grinder? In short, it contains something),” he asked Rodelas.
BOC officials have repeatedly said that the containers tested negative for illegal drugs after conducting a swab test. /ee
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