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NBI apologizes for including BOC official in smuggled shabu case

/ 06:16 PM February 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has apologized to an official of the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) for “inadvertently” including him in the complaint for smuggling billions worth of shabu inside magnetic lifters.

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During Thursday’s preliminary investigation, the NBI counsel submitted a motion for clarification excluding Michael Angelo Vargas, former BOC Deputy Collector for Operations at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), in the complaint for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act specifically for importation of illegal drugs.

“You are going to tell us now that you are going to withdraw the case against him,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel led by Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat asked the NBI lawyer who answered “yes.”

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Although Vargas was not specifically mentioned in the NBI complaint, his position and participation to the offense was given in detail on the NBI complaint.

The NBI admitted that the Deputy Collector for Operations was only included in the complaint because of the Customs Memorandum Order 31-2015 requiring the approval of the Deputy Collector for Operations of all amended Bill of Lading and Airway Bill.

In the importation of the magnetic lifters, the Bill of Lading was amended with regards to the description and quantity of goods. But the NBI said further probe showed that the amended Bill of Lading did not reach Vargas.

“So, you inadvertently charged him,” Sytat asked.

“Yes, your Honor and we apologize for that,” the NBI said.

Vargas appeared before the DOJ and submitted his counter-affidavit denying the complaint against him.

“I accept the apology [of the NBI] and I will let the DOJ do their job and I trust that there is justice in the Philippines. Okay lang ‘yun,” Vargas told reporters when asked about the NBI’s apology.

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The DOJ, however did not accept the NBI’s motion for clarification because there are other names that will be prejudiced by the motion.

In the same motion for clarification, the NBI is also including another name but the DOJ pointed out that the NBI did not mention the specific participation to the offense of the other respondent including Ben Line and Oriental Logistics which is based in Vietnam. /je

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TAGS: apology, BOC, complaint, Customs, Drugs, latest news, magnetic lifters, National Bureau of Investigation, NBI, shabu
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