DOJ gives Lapeña until Feb. 21 to explain smuggled ‘shabu’ in magnetic lifters
MANILA, Philippines — A panel of investigators from the Department of Justice (DOJ) gave former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro Lapeña up to Feb. 21 to explain his side on the billions worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) smuggled into the country in magnetic lifters.
The prosecutors, led by Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat, conducted a second preliminary investigation Monday on the consolidated complaint filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Some of the respondents have already submitted their counter-affidavits. Lapeña was represented by lawyer John Telan who received a copy of the NBI complaint. He asked for more time to respond.
Lapeña is facing a case for violation of the Revised Penal Code; violation of Section 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); and grave misconduct in violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees.
Meanwhile, former PDEA Deputy Director Ismael G. Fajardo, Senior Superintendent Eduardo P. Acierto, and former Customs Deputy Commissioner Ricardo Quinto did not appear at the DOJ and were unable to send their representatives.
The next preliminary investigation is set for Feb. 21, and another one is set for March 4.
PDEA filed the complaint on Aug. 29, 2018, and Dec. 13, 2018, while the NBI, which conducted a separate investigation, filed the complaint last January.
In the NBI complaint, Lapeña, Vener Baquiran, Zsae Carrie de Guzman, John Mar Morales, and Benjamin Cajucom are accused of dereliction of duty in violation of the Revised Penal Code; violation of Section 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); and grave misconduct in violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees.
The NBI complaint also sought the prosecution of over 40 persons, including former Intelligence Officer Jimmy Guban, Fajardo, Acierto and Quinto for violation of RA 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002); violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019; and for grave misconduct.
Meanwhile, the PDEA’s December 13, 2018 complaint accused 44 respondents, including Guban, Fajardo, and Acierto, also of importation of dangerous drugs, an attempt of conspiracy, and liability of a person violating any regulation issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
They are also accused of violating Section 3(e) of RA 3019, and for obstruction of justice in violation Presidential Decree No. 1829, Section 1(c) and the Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The PDEA’s August 29, 2018 complaint accused Chan Yee Wah Albert, Zhang Quan, Vedasto Baraquel Jr., and Maria Lagrimas Catipan of possession of illegal drugs in violation of RA 9165. /ee
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