MANILA - The Bureau of Customs on Tuesday turned over millions of pesos' worth of seized illegal drugs to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña led the turnover of 5 parcels containing 10,000 grams of marijuana and a parcel of ecstasy, estimated to be worth P3 million, at the Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC) in Pasay City.
These packages, which were declared to be food additives, clothing, school supplies, and handbags, were intercepted by Customs agents through their x-ray machines.
The bureau waited for the consignees to claim their packages, but they did not show up. They were identified as Mark Dinglasan, Joel Shila, Vicky Alvarez, Kim Equipado, James Garcia, and Divino Peleo.
These consignees will be charged for violation of the Customs modernization and tariffs act and the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Asked if the illegal parcels were sent as a test of Customs security or as a regular shipment, Lapeña said: "It could be both. Pwedeng nangyayari na, and then dahil sa mga implementation ngayon... pwedeng tine-testing. This can be a good deterrent."
The PDEA and the BOC, under then-Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, were at odds in the handling of the P6.4-billion drug haul intercepted from China.
"We are more strict now as much as possible all oif these items coming from abroad will be subject thru x rays," said Lapeña.
The Customs chief said shabu has become more expensive now since it has become scarce, with prices soaring to up to P10,000 per gram from around P2,000.
"There was even a time it reached P20,000, that was some time around September or August, when the Duterte administration assumed and we have an intensified campaign against illegal drugs in several areas," he said.
In November, he added, there were shipments from "clandestine laboratories," and these manufacturers shifted to bulk shipment from other countries and ship it through the Philippines' Customs, including the 600-kilogram shabu haul.
"We are able to successfully prevent the coming in of drugs through our Customs port and we will continue to do that as long as it is manageable," he said.
"The immediate difference is the suspended green lane so all the shipments go thru the x-rays. Before kasi nakakadaan sa green lane. Even the selectivity may problem," he added.
The Customs chief, however, said it is possible that he will lift the suspension of the green lane because of the holidays.
"We are on 24-7 operation, even our x-rays and our operators...I have been advocating and advising companies that can qualify for the so-called green lane para doon na sila," he said.
"I didn't suspend the super green lane..makakabawas ito sa x-rays. But when the time comes na magkakaroon ng congestion, I will lift the suspension para ma-normalize, at kung makikita kong gagaan na...I will suspend it again," he said.