Customs eyes new x-ray machines against drug smuggling

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2018 10:25 PM

MANILA - The procurement of new X-ray machines is underway to help solve the problem on drug smuggling, Bureau of Customs chief Isidro Lapeña said Thursday.

Admitting that "drug syndicates are getting sophisticated," Lapeña said BOC has a procurement of "top of the line" x-ray machines worth P1.3 billion.

"Organic and inorganic mababasa niya, it can penetrate steel casings, at a speed of 20-40kph maca-capture pa rin ang image," he told ABS-CBN News in an ambush interview.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino on Wednesday said Chinese drug syndicates will continue to put up drug labs in the country due to corruption and the absence of death penalty.

Aquino, however, did not divulge information on an alleged list of names who target putting up drug labs in the country.

"Kung hindi magiging strict, drugs will continue to be manufactured dito sa country natin. Pwede bayaran kahit sino, they can go home. Kaso pwede ilaglag. Sa bansa nila, they will die, they prefer the Philippines to put up illegal activities," he said.

Aquino said it's about time that the death penalty is considered, especially on drug-related cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said syndicates now fear putting up "drug kitchens" in the country due to his bloody war on drugs.

Aquino, however, said syndicates have not stopped. The PDEA chief also pointed out a lack in coordination between agencies and international counterparts.

PDEA agents on Tuesday seized about 91 kilos of shabu and 2.4 liters of liquid shabu and other chemicals and equipment amounting to P727 million in a condominium unit in Pasay City.

"If there's some importation, it should be alerted they can call our chemists to check anytime. Pumapasok ang mga controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) mostly sa seaports," Aquino said.

"Basta mga shipment from China these are tagged red, as you know wala na yung green lane. Just like itong 4 magnetic lifter dumaan ito sa proceso it was x-rayed, it was tagged red. And the image resembled kung ano ang declared item. Hindi yun naka lusot, dumaan yun sa proceso," Lapeña said.

Lapeña said the blame can't be on the BOC alone.

"In countering, if ever, it should be an inter-agency approach. It's possible na sa BOC, but there are other entry points na dito sa ating bansa, pinpointing it to the BOC alone, is unfair," he said.

Aquino said the Bureau of Immigration should look into creating a database on Chinese nationals and other foreigners who have previous cases on illegal drugs in their home country or overseas.

"Kailangan tignan ng BI, papasok sa bansa, isang Chinese-looking, a chemist, dapat red flag na yun,"Aquino said.