No flip-flopping? Lapeña clarifies remarks on Cavite magnetic lifters

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2018 05:40 PM

Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapena faces the media during a press conference at their headquarters in the port area of Manila on October 23, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña clarified on Thursday his flip-flopping remarks on magnetic lifters found in Cavite which may have contained illegal drugs.

Lapeña, who earlier rejected the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's (PDEA) claim that the magnetic lifters may have contained "shabu," backpedaled on Wednesday and agreed with the anti-drug agency.

"With the circumstantial evidence and testimonies, as an investigator, I will tend to believe na indeed may laman yan (na drugs)," he told lawmakers during a legislative inquiry on Wednesday.

The Customs chief explained that his earlier rejection of the possibility that the magnetic lifters contained drugs was simply based on the available evidence at the time.

“My position last August, that the magnetic lifters found in GMA, Cavite were empty were based on the evidence we have at the time," he said in a statement.

The PDEA checked out the said magnetic lifters in August following a lead from a tipster days after they intercepted 500 kilos of shabu concealed in two other magnetic lifters at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

The anti-drug agency said the empty containers may have contained P6.8-billion worth of illicit drugs but the Bureau of Customs (BOC) denied this at the time.

Former Customs X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) chief Lourdes Mangaoang earlier claimed that illegal drugs were detected in the magnetic lifters discovered in Cavite.

Lapeña said he conceded that the magnetic lifters may have contained illegal drugs after the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) reported their findings that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite were not designed for lifting heavy objects.

The DPWH added that the said magnetic lifters may have been purposely built to conceal items in its empty compartment.

“There is no, and there will never be any cover-up under my watch. I have been consistent from the beginning," Lapeña said.

"We have been prudent in our statements and presented only what the evidence was at the time," he added.