DOJ consolidates PDEA, NBI raps on multi-billion shabu haul

MANILA — Prosecutors on Wednesday asked the respondents in the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the case involving illegal drugs which were smuggled into the country inside magnetic lifters to submit their counter affidavits on February 11.

Hearing the case filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel also announced that it had consolidated PDEA’s complaint with the one initiated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last week.

“You may or may not opt to file your respective counter affidavit,” the panel led by Assistant State Prosecutors Mary Jane W. Sytat told the parties present.

Prosecutors said the deadline to file the counter affidavit will not be extended.

In its order dated January 29, the DOJ panel earlier granted the motion for consolidation filed by the NBI.

The DOJ panel is composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Sytat, Giono Paolo S. Santiago, Jervis A. Gaspar and Prosecution Attorneys Jayvee Laurence B. Bandong and Mary Grace S. Arboladura.

The NBI last week formally submitted its findings to the DOJ on the controversy.

In its 49-page letter requesting for preliminary investigation, NBI Director Dante Gierran named more than three dozen individuals to be involved in the smuggling of said shipment of drugs through magnetic lifters.

The NBI identified former PDEA Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo, Customs intelligence officer Jimmy S. Guban and dismissed Senior Supt. Eduardo P. Acierto as most liable for the shipment.

The NBI also recommended charges against Customs officials led by former Bureau of Customs chief Isidro Lapeña and others linked to the transaction.

Investigators said District Collector Vener Baquiran was also remiss with his duty to prevent smuggling when he did not declare the two magnetic lifters abandoned within the period prescribed by law.

The NBI recommended dereliction of duty, violation of graft laws and grave misconduct charges against Lapeña among others. 
Benjamin Pulta / PNA- with Francesca Fajardo/NIB-OJT