NBI submits findings on multi-billion shabu haul to DOJ

MANILA The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday formally submitted its findings to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the controversy involving the smuggling of PHP6.8-billion shabu into the country through magnetic lifters last year.

In its 49-page letter requesting for preliminary investigation, NBI Director Dante Gierran named more than three dozen individuals along with still unidentified suspects for the scandal involving drugs smuggled into the country inside six construction crane equipment magnetic lifters last July.

The NBI identified former PDEA Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo, Customs intelligence officer Jimmy S. Guban and dismissed Senior Supt. Eduardo P. Acierto as most liable for the shipment.

"These three individuals are the main players in the entry of the magnetic lifters containing the illegal drugs both from MICP and Cavite," the NBI said.

The NBI also recommended charges against Customs officials led by former Bureau of Customs Chief Isidro LapeAa and others linked to the transaction.

"Despite the lapse of time, Commissioner LapeAa did not file any case against the shippers or consignees of the two magnetic lifters, which should have been done upon the discovery of the goods by misclassification, since it is very obvious that the declaration made by the shipper is not the same as what were intercepted," the NBI said, pointing out that at least one of the shipment was declared as "door frames".

"His deliberate intent to favor the violator was manifested by the fact that, in spite the violators were identified by Commissioner LapeAa, he did not prosecute or cause the prosecution of the violators," the NBI added.

Investigators said District Collector Vener Baquiran was also remiss with his duty to prevent smuggling when he did not declare the two magnetic lifters abandoned within the period prescribed by law.

Baquiran, the NBI said "should also be made liable for giving favor to the consignee of the two magnetic lifters".

The NBI recommended dereliction of duty, violation of graft laws and grave misconduct charges against LapeAa among others.

The controversy involved six magnetic lifters which found its way to the Philippines in separate shipments.

The first, involved two lifters which were picked up in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. It found its way to the Philippines via Hong Kong on board the vessel AS Sicilla of TS Lines LTd. inside a container marked DFSU 1941859.

SN Logistics which received the shipment in Malaysia had initially declared the shipment as "door frames".

The papers covering the shipment was later corrected changing the name of the consignee from Vecaba Trading's Sampaloc address to a warehouse in Cavite. The consignee was again corrected to a certain Zhauq Quan. A third correction involved changing the description of the shipped goods from "door frames" as originally declared in Malaysia into "lifting electromagnet for steel'.

Vecaba Trading upon verification with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) turned out as a non-accredited importer and was used to accommodate the shipment of two magnetic lifters upon the instruction of KC Chan, a Chinese national and former husband of Emelyn Luquingan.

Vecaba was formed under the name of Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr. who met with KC Chan when Baraquel's common law wife Maria Catipan was working as a cashier at a bar owned by KC Chan. It was Chan who also told them to secure warehouses for the newly-formed business.

On July 30, 2018, two weeks after the shipment reached Manila, Baquiran issued a notice of abandonment and on August 7, the abandoned shipment was brought to the designated area for full examination.

Upon examination, two magnetic lifters containing 154 vacuum-sealed plastic containers with shabu were recovered by authorities.

The four magnetic lifters, on the other hand, were recovered by the NBI Task Force Against Illegal Drugs in Cavite on August 8, 2018.

The shipment originally came from the YIDA Equipment Crane Limited Company based in Hai Phong City, Vietnam under the name of a Vietnamese national, Le Thi Thuy, who later transferred ownership to Luu Thi Thu Huong.

A Taiwanese national, Kan Ji Hong acted as the legal representative of Yida and transported it into the Philippines.

Records from the Bureau of Immigration showed Kan was a permanent resident of Linyi City, Shandong Province, China.

A second company, Dong Trieu Import Export Service Trading Company Limited processed the export declaration for the shipment. Both companies, Yida and Dong Trieu subsequently closed shop.

After processing at the BOC, the container with the magnetic lifters were taken to a Cavite warehouse owned by Vicenta Cantemprate leased for six months for PHP900,000 by a Chinese national named Hsu Chung Chun.

At the warehouse, a forklift operator, Angelo Ramilo said on the morning of July 15, 2018. seven Chinese-looking men onboard a Honda CRV (DU 6970), a green Ford Expedition (XNX 588), a Ford Everest (CO7553) and a Black Toyota Rav4 (ABE 7229) supervised the unloading of the lifters from the container and positioning them vertically before using a grinder on a part of the lifters.

The Chinese men left after ordering Ramilo to use the forklift to make room for additional lifters which they said were on their way also to the warehouse.

Ramilo saw on the news that the magnetic lifters confiscated at the Customs area in Manila for containing drugs was similar to the ones that were brought into Cantemprate's warehouse.

He immediately informed Cantemprate and they later reported the incident to barangay officials. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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