The House committee on dangerous drugs chaired by Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte) on Tuesdayinquired into the billion pesos worth of illegal drugs seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Valenzuela City.
Barbers and Rep. Weslie Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela City) had earlier filed House Resolution Nos. 1054 and 1057, respectively, urging the committee to conduct an inquiry into the 604 kilos worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, valued at P6.4 billion which was seized by the BOC in Valenzuela City last May 26, 2017.
In filing his resolution, Barbers lamented that the illicit drugs had been smuggled into the country despite the Duterte administration's steadfast campaign against illegal drugs, as well as the alleged involvement of Customs personnel in the said drugs shipment.
He stressed the need for the government to strengthen the law against illicit drugs through effective law enforcement and successful prosecution.
For his part, Gatchalian underscored in his resolution the need to look into the policy of the BOC on maintaining an express lane, where no inspections or x-ray checks are conducted, and the possible involvement of BOC officials in drug trafficking.
He also urged the committee to determine the involvement and accountability of the owners, officers, and employees of EMT Trading, the consignee of the shipment, as well as the heads of law enforcement agencies tasked with preventing the entry of illicit substances.
During the hearing, House members decried the failure of the BOC to detect the entry of a huge volume of illegal drugs into the country.
They also lamented the blunders committed by Customs officials, led by Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, when they conducted the raid in a warehouse in Valenzuela City.
The lawmakers pointed out that the inefficiency of the BOC personnel, led by Faeldom, might have tainted the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.
Barbers said the panel would look into the highly embarrassing and terribly bungled operation that the BOC conducted which resulted in the recovery of P6.4 billion worth of shabu.
How and why such a golden opportunity to catch a big fish turned into the worst fishing expedition. The government may not even have a case at all against the shabu smugglers due to the seemingly intentional bungling of the operation, Barbers said.
We will also look into the possible connivance and link between the BOC officials, brokers and importers in the smuggling of illegal drugs and the possible attempt to cover up in order to protect some drug personalities or drug lords themselves, Barbers further said.
Gatchalian highlighted the following during the House probe: the so-called controlled delivery and procedures in handling drug-related cases by the BOC, the collaboration of the BOC and PDEA in the port of entry, and the efficient and effective prosecution of drug cases related to Customs.
He expressed concern that another shipment of shabu might be missing in Valenzuela City.
He revealed that Customs operatives conducted a second raid in the city several days after the first raid on May 26, hoping to find additional drugs that might have been smuggled, but failed to do so.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas (1st District, IlocosNorte) chided Faeldon and the Customs officials for violating the Constitution and other existing laws when they conducted the shabu raid in Valenzuela City.
He expressed concern that when the BOC files the cases in court, the charges might be dismissed as a result of their blunders.
Source: House of Representatives