Customs chief, exec point fingers over drug links

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2018 08:42 AM | Updated as of Dec 15 2019 01:48 PM

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MANILA - A rift between between Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña and Deputy Collector Lourdes Mangaoang continued to widen Wednesday after each linked the other to the narcotics trade. 

Mangaoang earlier accused Lapeña of snubbing her information that x-ray machines detected drugs inside 2 magnetic lifters that slipped past Customs inspection. The two lifters were eventually found empty in Cavite province last August. 

Lapeña on Tuesday said drug syndicates are using the issue to discredit him and divert public attention away from their operations. 

Mangaoang, former chief of the Customs x-ray inspection project, may have been used by drug rings "unwittingly or wittingly," he told reporters. 

Speaking to radio DZMM, Mangaoang denied this, saying that she would not have revealed the presence of drugs in the Cavite magnetic lifters if she were allied with drug lords. 

"Dapat pinagtatakpan ko ito. On the contrary, siya (Lapeña) ang nagtatakip. Siya ang nagsasabing walang droga when all the agencies say na may droga iyan. Malamang siya ang may koneksyon dahil pinagtatakpan niya," she said. 

(I should have covered it up. On the contrary, he's the one covering it, he's the one saying that there were no drugs when all the agencies say it may have contained drugs. It's likely that he's the one who has a connection to the drug syndicates because he's covering up for them.) 

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency earlier said the Cavite magnetic lifters may have contained P6.8 billion worth of shabu. 

The containers were similar to those intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), which yielded P4.3 billion worth of shabu, the agency said. 

A DPWH report said all these magnetic lifters were modified and had hollow interiors to conceal drugs, PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said Monday. 

PDEA also confirmed last Friday that the illegal drugs seized in recent busts, matched those confiscated at the MICP. 

But Lapeña, in a statement Saturday, said the scientific analysis made by the PDEA did not categorically answer the question on whether or not the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite indeed contained shabu.

He stressed that the shabu seized from the lifters at the MICP, consigned to Vecaba Trading, came from Malaysia, while the lifters consigned to SMYD Trading discovered in Cavite and which were found empty, came from Vietnam.

The Customs chief also said the magnetic lifters found in Cavite went through proper Customs clearance. 

DZMM, 24 Ocotover 2018