House to probe P6.8B ‘shabu’ smuggling

MANILA The House of Reperesentatives' committee on dangerous drugs will conduct an investigation on Tuesday into the smuggling of PHP6.8billion worth of crystal meth or "shabu" into the Philippines.

The motu proprio hearing is set at 10 a.m. at the Belmonte Hall, South Wing Annex of the Batasang Pambansa.

Four magnetic lifters with traces of the illegal drug were discovered by antidrug authorities at a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said these four magnetic lifters contained 1,000 kg. or a ton of shabu worth PHP6.8 billion, which are believed to be now circulating on the streets.

Aquino said the empty magnetic lifters were similar to the two seized ones, which contained about 500 kg. of shabu, at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) on Tuesday.

Initial information revealed that the illegal drugs came from Taiwan, Republic of China and the syndicate only used Malaysia as a transshipment point.

Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo also filed House Resolution No. 2068, which seeks to investigate the "continued inability" of the Bureau of Customs to prevent the largescale smuggling of illegal drugs.

A similar incident involving the smuggling of PHP6.4billion worth of shabu hounded the agency last year, which led to the criminal investigation against former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

It is simply shocking. I find this completely unacceptable that incidents like these continue to happen despite supposed reforms, which the Bureau of Customs undertook in the aftermath of last year's similar PHP6.4billion shabu smuggling case, as well as the gargantuan intelligence budgets provided by Congress to both the BOC and PDEA, Quimbo said.

Because of persisting corruption and incompetence, 1,000 kilograms of shabu is now likely circulating in our streets. What is even more worrying is that we don't know how many more shipments like these have slipped through the porous grasp of the BOC, Quimbo added.

On Saturday, BOC Commissioner Isidro 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."

LapeAa identified SMYD Trading as the consignee of the shipment discovered in Cavite, which according to PDEA contained some one ton of shabu estimated to be worth PHP6.8 billion.

As a result of our backtracking investigation, it was identified that it was consigned to SMYD Trading, owned by Marina dela Cruz Signapan, with customs broker Katrina Grace Cuasay declaring the shipment as magnetic lifter, he said.

The shipment passed through the normal procedure. It was tagged red, had been Xrayed and examined, but, as what PDEA had said, the drugs inside cannot be detected." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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