Several top officials of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) were accused of contributing to the country’s worsening drug situation in failing to prevent the entry of a P1 Billion smuggled shipment of shabu from Cambodia at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in 2019.
It was learned that Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra had formed a special panel of investigators to look closely into the case.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) recently recommended the filing of graft, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, violation of the Customs Code, violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials against erring BoC and PDEA officials.
The caper was earlier exposed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a privilege speech on May 29, 2019, which prompted authorities into conducting an honest-to-goodness probe into the alleged irregularity.
The 146-kilogram shabu shipment, valued at about P1 billion, supposedly arrived at the MICP sometime in January 2019 in three container vans whose contents were declared as tapioca starch.” and was auctioned off in March 2019 to an interested bidder after being declared as abandoned.
After formally taking possession of the containers from the BoC in May 2019, the new owner(Goldwin Commercial) had them delivered to a Malabon warehouse. When they were opened, the shabu was discovered, whereupon concerned authorities were notified.
The BoC at the time quickly attempted to wash its hands of any liability, claiming what was auctioned off was merely tapioca. MICP officials, fearful of criminal accountability, flatly denied there was any shabu inside.
Lacson lambasted the Customs bureau and the PDEA for auctioning off illegal drugs as it was a violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.
PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva, whose name was included in the NBI charge sheet, vehemently denied any involvement in the caper as he was only appointed to his post in May 2020.
Photo: CNN Philippines