PDEA files raps vs 44 in P11-B ‘shabu’ smuggling; Lapeña spared
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday sought the indictment of one of its former senior officials and 43 others for their alleged role in sneaking into the country P11 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth).
The filing of the 38-page complaint for drug smuggling in the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former PDEA Deputy Director General Ismael Fajardo and his coaccused came four months after the incident, which government officials said undermined President Duterte’s war on drugs.
The respondents do not include former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, one of Mr. Duterte’s most trusted lieutenants on whose watch the alleged drug smuggling happened.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino, who led the filing of the complaint, said there was no sufficient evidence showing Lapeña’s involvement in the biggest smuggling of shabu in recent years.
“Our legal team studied and reviewed everything, and they gave the results to me. It was found out that he has no direct link in these particular cases,” Aquino told reporters.
Lapeña insisted that there had been no drug smuggling after the PDEA found in August four magnetic lifters in a warehouse in Cavite province that it believed had contained shabu.
But when the magnetic lifters matched two other lifters that were found containing shabu at Manila International Container Terminal, he conceded that the Cavite lifters could have contained crystal meth.
The PDEA estimated the shipment to have been 1.6 tons, worth P11 billion.
The President removed Lapeña from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) but appointed him as director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, a Cabinet position.
Aquino, who engaged Lapeña in a word war over whether drug smuggling really happened and who should be held responsible for it, vowed that his office would diligently pursue the case against those allegedly behind the incident.
“[The] PDEA assures the public that all the resources will be tapped by this agency to ensure the successful prosecution of all these cases,” he said.
Besides Fajardo, named respondents were former Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto, former customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban and police Insp. Lito Pirote.
Both Fajardo and Acierto went into hiding after Guban told separate inquiries by the Senate and the House of Representatives that he facilitated the importation of shabu, which were stuffed in magnetic lifters, on their instructions.
Guban has been temporarily admitted to the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program after the President ordered his arrest.
Also charged with violation of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, were several Chinese nationals believed to be members of a drug syndicate, BOC officials and other private individuals who allegedly facilitated the entry of the illegal drug into the country.
“The respective liabilities of the … respondents do not only proceed from the fact that they actively participated in the scheme relative to the importation of the dangerous drugs into the Philippines, they likewise wittingly worked in protecting and coddling the foreign nationals involved in the same scheme,” the PDEA said in its complaint.
“Cunning as it was, the scheme judiciously machinated by [the respondents] to trade and import dangerous [drugs] … was proven effective as they vividly painted a picture where they are heroes dutifully doing their sworn duties as law enforcers while strategically using the leverage born of their respective offices … for their reprehensible offenses,” it added.
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