Aquino lauds Lapeña remark on magnetic lifters with shabu

MANILA — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday welcomed the remarks of Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña saying he is convinced that the four magnetic lifters found in a warehouse in Cavite contained illegal drugs.

“Well, I’m happy. I’m the one who approached him and congratulated him. I am vindicated that he supported my first stand my initial assessment na there are drugs inside. Now, maniniwala na siguro ang mga tao dyan na may droga nga, samantala noon na lagi akong bina-bash kung ano ano ang sinasabi sa PDEA (I’m sure the people will believe there are illegal drugs there. In the past, I was always bashed, and attacks are hurled at PDEA),” Aquino told reporters in a press brieifng at Kapihan sa Klub at Club FIlipino in San Juan City.

Aquino also said he and the BOC chief can now jointly determine who are the persons involved in these drug syndicates.

During a House inquiry into the PHP6.8-billion shabu smuggling, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Bureau of Equipment director Toribio Ilao said the nature of the lifters may be intended to carry contraband and not heavy materials.

“I will tend to believe that indeed, may laman ‘yan sir (there was something inside),” Lapeña told the House panel.

In a separate interview, he said the lifters did contain shabu.

The BOC earlier claimed that no shabu was found in the containers, after this tested negative for illegal drugs.

Deputy Customs Collector Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, during the same hearing, said the X-ray images indicate that something was inside the magnetic lifters.

Further citing her experience as a “seasoned investigator”, Mangaoang alleged the containers were packed with shabu based on testimonies and other evidence presented in the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry, to which she was invited as an “expert witness.

On Wednesday, President Duterte urged Lapeña and Aquino to stop blaming each other and instead go after the culprits behind the smuggled shabu.

He described Lapeña and Aquino as men of good character and integrity.

During Wednesday’s House hearing, Lapeña agreed with Aquino’s previous statement the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite were used to smuggle shabu.

Duterte said the system in the government is corrupt, urging the Filipinos to join him in his campaign against corruption.

“You have access to this place (Palace) 24 hours a day when it comes to corruption in government. Tell me who is this guy asking for money, extortion. I will call him here. I’ll have him arrested,” Duterte said.