Customs exec denies romantic link with drug-tagged mayor
MANILA - Customs official Lourdes Mangaoang rejected Wednesday a rumor that she once had a fling with Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot of Cebu, who was linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to the narcotics trade.
Mangaoang recently made headlines for claiming that Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña ignored her report that x-ray machines detected drugs inside 4 magnetic lifters that were processed by Customs and eventually found empty at a Cavite warehouse.
A former head of the Customs x-ray inspection project, Mangaoang was asked in a press conference about an opinion piece claiming that she was a mistress of a mayor in Cebu province and that she once facilitated the release of drug shipment as a favor to friends.
"Ihahabla ko 'yan," she said, referring to the article's writers.
"Wala hong katotohanan iyan. Wala ho akong drogang pinalusot," she added.
(I will file a case. There is no truth to it. I did not release any drug shipment.)
While the report did not identify the mayor, Mangaoang said its writer may have been referring to Loot, whom she met when she was still a Customs collector in Cebu.
She said she last saw Loot in 2006 and that they seldom talked even in social events.
Duterte in 2016 singled out Loot in his discussion of personalities allegedly involved in the drug trade.
Suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa also alleged that Loot received P120,000 from him weekly, with P100,000 going to the mayor and P20,000 to alleged bagman C/Insp. Leo Laraga.
Loot denied this and described the accusation as black propaganda.
Mangaoang said Lapeña may have been behind the report linking her to the policeman-turned-mayor, reiterating her claim that he hired a public relations firm to discredit her.
She added that she welcomes any lifestyle check.
Lapeña has denied that he did nothing over Mangaoang's x-ray findings report. He said he set up an investigation committee and suspended Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban and 2 x-ray employees for failing to conduct a physical inspection of the magnetic lifters.
"I will never destroy my name protecting drug syndicates as insinuated by certain write-ups that have circulated," he said.
"I have served this government and this country for 34 years without compromising my principles and highest regard for public service."
ABS-CBN News, 25 October 2018