Lapeña 'covering up for drug smugglers,' claims Customs official

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2018 07:16 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2018 08:43 AM

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MANILA - A Bureau of Customs (BOC) official on Tuesday said the agency's chief, Isidro Lapeña, has been "covering up" for drug smugglers by denying that the empty magnetic lifters seized in Cavite last August did not contain illegal drugs.

Former Customs X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) chief Lourdes Mangaoang said evidence presented before both chambers of the Congress has established that the magnetic lifters contained illegal drugs.

She earlier claimed that the agency's x-ray machines indeed detected illegal drugs inside magnetic lifters recovered in Cavite.

"Commissioner Lapeña, what I can say is he has been defending, he has been covering up for the drug smugglers by saying that there are no shabu in those magnetic lifters even before an investigation has been done," Mangaoang told ANC.

Mangaoang also denied that she is involved in any drug syndicates which are supposedly plotting for Lapeña's ouster as Customs chief.

"Definitely I am not involved in those drug syndicates, I do not know who they are and I have nothing to do with them. I am not allowing myself to be used by them. I got my subpoena and I have to tell the truth and nothing but the truth," she said.

"I’ve known this, that he is accusing me of being part of a group of syndicates which is working for his ouster. I know he submitted a report to Sen. (Richard) Gordon that I am part of the group which financed his ouster. I have no money to do that."

Lapeña earlier Tuesday said the government should focus on taking down drug syndicates instead of criticizing his agency.

When asked if she would call for Lapeña's resignation, Mangaoang said it was up to the Customs chief.

"It is up to him if he wants to resign or not. But this is what I can say, when former commissioner (Nicanor) Faeldon was involved in a similar incident a year ago, the drugs were apprehended," she said.

"So they were seized and later destroyed and yet commissioner Faeldon resigned out of delicadeza. In this case, the drugs slipped out of customs and are out on the streets, and yet Commissioner Lapena does not want to resign."


Mangaoang also revealed that she has received calls and text messages asking her not to testify in congressional hearings.

"I got calls in and out of Customs. I cannot reveal them now but I got text messages, ‘we will destroy her, we will make her life miserable,'" she said. 

"And then I also got calls from colleagues, ‘Hoy mam
Wag ka nang lumaban kay Commissioner kasi ganito ganito, papahirapan ka daw nila. Even your son, they will make it difficult for your son.’ Of course I got scared, I got threats. I have been intimidated and harassed. Binabantayan nila yung aking attendance daw."

Mangaoang, who is now assigned as Customs collector for passengers services at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, also slammed reports that she got reassigned due to underperformance.

"I am underperforming daw. How can I be underperforming, in fact I have another commendation for September of this year. We were over the target by more than 50 percent," she said.

"I have 10 commendations since January up to the end of April. My last commendation was given first week of October for the month of September."