MANILA - The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency maintained Thursday that some P6.8 billion worth of shabu was stuffed into magnetic lifters seized in Cavite province although the containers tested negative for drug traces.
The PDEA earlier said about a ton of shabu from Taiwan could have been concealed in the 4 magnetic lifters which were found empty at a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez town on August 8 -- a day after a P2.4-billion shabu shipment was seized from similar containers at the Manila port.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, branded the PDEA report as "speculation" after the Bureau of Customs announced that the 4 magnetic lifters tested negative for traces of shabu.
During the resumption of a House hearing into the incident, PDEA Director Aaron Aquino said it was unfair that he is being pilloried for his agency's report.
"I just tell the truth, precisely the truth... Nakita ko positive talaga na kahit wala corpus delicti (body of crime/concrete evidence) it contained drugs,” he said.
Aquino said the magnetic lifters seized in Cavite were similar with those found in Manila, which contained shabu but still tested negative for narcotics in a swabbing test.
PDEA and the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory jointly conducted swabbing on the magnetic lifters in MICP on August 28, 2019. The swabbing yielded negative results for both PDEA and PNP despite the fact that 355 kilos of shabu were recovered from these lifters in MICP.
K-9 units, Aquino said, also "responded twice" to each Cavite container. "We all know that K-9 can detect scents 10,000 times [better than] a human being," he said.
Aquino added that K-9 tests are more accurate that the swabbing tests for which the magnetic lifters tested negative.
The PDEA chief said he failed to give an immediate report to the President, so the latter may not have been apprised of the whole situation.
PDEA-Calabarzon chief Adrian Alvariño noted earlier in the hearing that the Manila and Cavite magnetic lifters had similar cables, power supplies and method of concealment using plastic, aluminum foil and asbestos.
The National Bureau of Investigation has been tasked to look into the Cavite magnetic lifters. - Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News