Mangaoang: Lapeña directs testimony of Customs witnesses at hearings
Former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has been instructing witnesses from his agency in congressional hearings to be consistent with his previous stand on the P11-billion worth of crystal meth, or “shabu,” that had allegedly been smuggled in the country, Customs Deputy Collector Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang said on Saturday.
Mangaoang said Lapeña had been ordering witnesses from the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in hearings to support his previous claim that there was no basis for c concluding that the magnetic lifters seized in Cavite contained illegal drugs.
“This is a fact. Prior to congressional hearings, Senate hearings, he was meeting with those involved – those with subpoenas and those with invitations,” Mangaong said, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino, in an inteview with AM radio station DZMM
“The Commissioner presides over the meetings, and his policy is whatever they say it must be consistent with his position,” she said.
Lapeña later changed his line, however, saying he was now inclined to believe that the magnetic lifters contained shabu, after a testimony in a hearing at the House of Representatives showed that the lifters were not fit for lifting any scrap materials.
According to Mangaoang, Lapeña also gave consent to the testimony of witnesses who said that the X-ray machines could not penetrate the magnetic lifters and detect the illegal drugs allegedly packed inside.
“Whatever was said in the Senate and in the lower house, the Commissioner gave them the consent to say all those things,” she said.
Mangaoang noted that the X-ray machines could penetrate 11 inches of steel. She said the magnetic lifters found in Cavite had a thickness of only one-and-a half inches.
She said that the failure to detect the illegal drugs in the shipment was not due to incompetence of the BOC personnel. She added that the entry of illegal drugs was deliberated. /atm
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