P6.8-B drug slip result of ‘intelligence gap’ between Customs, PDEA: Customs chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2018 06:01 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2018 08:34 PM

MANILA—An "intelligence gap" between customs officials and anti-drug operatives allegedly led to the release of a shipment of illegal drugs worth P6.8 billion, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said Saturday.

Authorities earlier intercepted P4.3 billion worth of shabu from the Manila International Container Port, but failed to confiscate a larger volume as they only found empty magnetic lifters with traces of illegal drugs in Cavite.

Lapeña said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) did not inform the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that there were intelligence reports about the bulk shipment of shabu to the country.

"Information is necessary. If we have information, what I can do is alert all shipments for a period of time," Lapeña said in a press conference.

"Kahit na isang oras lang kung nasabihan ako, na-prevent sana."

PDEA Dir. Gen. Aaron Aquino said the information his agency received was "raw" and had to be validated before sharing it with other concerned agencies.

"All info should be subjected to validation. We can’t share information based on hearsay," Aquino said.

Lapeña said working relations between the BOC and the PDEA will not be strained despite the communication lapse.

"I understand na sa intel 'di lahat nakakaalam niyan because it is compartmentalized para hindi ma-leak at malagay sa alanganin ang operasyon," he said.

Lapeña said the BOC continues to investigate and have identified SMYD Trading as the alleged consignee of the shipment.

The company's accreditation has already been cancelled, the commissioner said.

Lapeña also recommended the relief of Manila International Container Port director Vener Baquiran over the shipment that slipped past the bureau. 

—With reports from Henry Atuelan, Bianca Dava, and Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News