MANILABureau of Customs (BOC) chief Isidro LapeAa said Tuesday the four magnetic lifters, suspected to contain a ton of crystal meth or "shabu", have tested negative for any presence of dangerous drugs, based on laboratory test results.
LapeAa revealed this before lawmakers during the hearing of the House of Representatives' dangerous drugs committee on the alleged smuggling of PHP6.8-billion worth of shabu.
He said the Philippine National Police's Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) team, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the BOC conducted a swab testing for the presence of illegal drugs on the magnetic lifters, which yielded a negative result.
"The four pieces of magnetic lifters, including the aluminum foils in the area, were swabbed and examined for (the) possible presence of shabu but this yielded negative result for the presence of dangerous drugs," LapeAa said.
"As government authorities, we have to be prudent in providing unverified information to the general public to allay further fear or confusion," he added.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino earlier claimed these four magnetic lifters might have contained 1,000 kg. or a ton of shabu worth PHP6.8 billion, which might already be circulating on the streets. The four magnetic lifters were discovered in a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite.
Aquino said the empty magnetic lifters were similar to the two seized ones, which contained some 500 kg. of shabu, at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) last week.
LapeAa said the allegation that a ton of shabu is circulating in the market has "no basis."
"Based on the result of the laboratory analysis both from PDEA and the PNP, four magnetic lifters have no presence of dangerous drugs," LapeAa said.
PDEA Deputy Director General for Operation Ruel Lasala, during the same hearing, however insisted that the lifters contained illegal drugs based on circumstantial evidence.
"Lahat ng circumstantial evidence na nakalap namin, ang laman ng metallic lifter na yun ay droga (All circumstantial evidence we've gathered point that the metallic lifters contained drugs)," Lasala said.
LapeAa identified the consignee of the shipment as SMYD Trading, owned by Marina dela Cruz Signapan and was processed by customs broker Katrina Grace Cuasay.
He noted that the shipment was tagged red, had been X-rayed and examined, and no derogatory information about it has been found.
LapeAa said paramount in increasing the effectiveness of border protection in the suppression of smuggling is the "timely receipt of intelligence information from the lead agencies, primarily tasked to eliminate illegal drugs in the country, and the close coordination with proper authorities between agencies.
Aquino was not able to attend the House hearing due to an out-of-town commitment.
The House committee will issue a "strongly-worded letter" to Aquino to compel his presence in future hearings. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency