Congress probe of Subic Freeport drug haul pushed
Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. urged Congress on Friday to probe recent seizures of illegal drugs in his province, as he stressed that Pampanga is not the home of drug traffickers.
“We are saddened and alarmed by this turn of events in our beloved province, one of the growth centers in Central Luzon,” the House senior deputy speaker said in a statement.
He was referring to the seizure of 530 kilos of “shabu,” worth P3.6 billion, from a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga, earlier this week, and the 200 kilos of shabu worth P1.3 billion found abandoned in a car parked at a supermarket in Mabalacat City.
“Pampanga is not known as the home ground of drug traffickers, but the latest drug confiscations are giving it a bad image. If this is an incipient problem in our area, let us nip it in the bud,” he said.
The Pampanga lawmaker cited the statement of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla that the illegal drugs seized in Mexico town passed through the Subic Bay Freeport.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair and administrator Jonathan Tan, however, took offense at suggestions that Subic Port is a smuggling hot spot.
“Why blame SBMA? Instead, we should be commended for discovering the illegal drugs and thwarting the attempt to smuggle it,” Tan said.
Tan said President Marcos specifically instructed him to stop the smuggling that had plagued the free port in the past, but he did not tolerate such activities.
“We don’t tolerate smuggling and corruption,” he said. “We just had a meeting with customs brokers and port users, and I told them they don’t have to bribe someone for their shipments if they pay the right taxes.”
“Fighting smuggling can’t be done by one government agency alone. It’s a joint effort among SBMA, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA),” Tan added.
According to the Customs house at the Port of Subic, the contraband was discovered on Sept. 21, following coordination with the NBI, the PDEA and the DOJ.
“We intercepted the shipment, and we deliberately brought it to Mexico where it’s supposed to be delivered, so we could identify the source,” Tan said.
The Bureau of Customs’ district collector at Subic issued a warrant of seizure and detention on the shipment on Sept. 23, five days after its arrival on Sept. 18 onboard the Thailand vessel Sitc Shekou.
During the seizure, authorities discovered 530 packs, each containing approximately one kilo of methamphetamine.