MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended filing graft charges against former and incumbent officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), as well as anti-narcotics agents over the P1 billion shabu cargo in 2019.
The NBI said ex-PDEA chief Aaron Aquino, current PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva, BOC head Rey Guerrero, BOC Deputy Commissioner Raniel Ramiro, and several drug operatives should be held responsible for supposedly failing to detect the shabu shipment.
In its report, which copy was sent to members of the media on Tuesday, NBI recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the filing of charges against Aquino, Guerrero, and Ramiro for purported violation of the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Employees, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.”
It also recommended to DOJ the lodging of charges against Villanueva, PDEA agents Joel Plaza, Aldrin Albarino, Jigger Montallana, Melvin Estoque, Jan Mark Malibiran, Judith Rigo, Dorcas Repolles, Noilan Avila, Mark Espiritu, Marc Anthony Marero, Cesar Bilowan, Alejandro Noble, Koden Dario, and Kathryn Joy Diono for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service.
NBI further recommended filing graft charges against BOC officials Ivy Joy Nitura, Vicent Puti, and Rory Dela Torre.
According to NBI, Nitura and Puti should be held criminally liable for allegedly violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
NBI likewise endorsed lodging of charges against anti-narcotics agents Daniel Martinez, Mark Erick Espiritu, and Lester Martobago for purported violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
To recall, a shipment labeled as “tapioca starch” was abandoned in March 2019. It was consequently auctioned off, but authorities discovered in May 2019 that the cargo contains around P1 billion worth of illegal drugs stored in 114 bags concealed in several aluminum pallets at the Goldwin Commercial Warehouse in Barangay Santolan in Malabon City.
INQUIRER.net reached out to Villanueva to get his statement on this matter, but he refused to comment saying he has yet to read the NBI’s report to DOJ.