The Department of Justice will continue its investigation into the alleged smuggling of a ton of shabu worth P6.8 billion that slipped past Customs despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s doubts on the report of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday said the National Bureau of Investigation’s parallel probe will proceed even after the President has said that PDEA’s claims could be mere speculation as there was no evidence to back its suspicions.
“I have not revoked my directive to the NBI to do its own probe. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to cases involving illegal drugs,” Guevarra said, in a text message.
PDEA agents recently seized four magnetic lifters believed to have contained the smuggled shabu at a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite.
Drug-sniffing dogs detected traces of narcotics in the empty magnetic lifters, but President Duterte was not convinced.
In a speech last week, Duterte branded as “pure speculation” the claim of PDEA chief Aaron Aquino that the shabu shipment may have already made its way to the market.
“There was nothing there. They presumed it was filled with shabu and made assumption on the prices. You do not go into speculative content. You must be very sure that you have the goods,” Duterte said.
Despite this, the Justice secretary said that the NBI would pursue its investigation to verify PDEA’s report, trace how the latest shabu shipment was able to pass through the BoC and pinpoint who were the officials and personalities responsible for it.
If warranted, he ordered the bureau to file charges against those who will be found criminally liable for the drug smuggling.
Guevarra said he would await the initial report of the NBI to determine if there’s need to take further actions.
“We will wait for an update from the NBI to know if there’s need to take more actions,” he said.
The DoJ chief said he may order the NBI to hunt down 11 Chinese nationals led by a certain Chao Yue Wah, alias KC Chan, Albert Chan or Tony Chan and to also secure a precautionary hold departure order against them.
Aquino said he believed that some officials in BoC could be responsible for the smuggling and were in cahoots with drug syndicate.
The PDEA chief pointed that the same type of magnetic lifters were used to smuggle P4.3 billion worth of shabu seized at the Port of Manila last week.
He said dogs detected traces of illegal drugs in the empty magnetic lifters, similar to the two seized at the Manila International Container Terminal also last week, which contained an estimated 500 kilograms of shabu.
Drug rings operating in the Golden Triangle in the shared borders of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand are believed to be behind the multibillion-peso shabu shipments.
According to PDEA, the shipment was sourced from Taiwan with Malaysia as a transshipment point before entering the country. It reportedly came into the country at the end of June and was dispatched to the warehouse, rented at P150,000 per month for a year.
Several men unloaded the illicit shipment on the night of July 15, taking three to four hours to load the drugs into an estimated 17 luggage trolley bags.
The Philippine National Police on Monday said it has yet to validate the names which have been added to the watchlist of high-value target personalities involved in illegal drugs.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the list of HVTs as of Aug. 15, based on new information and continuing validation, has increased to 9,972 from 9,866 listed as of June 30.
“With this new working figure, we are setting our sights on 1,003 high-value targets as subjects of police interdiction operations through buy-bust operations and service of warrants of arrest and search warrants,” Albayalde said.
He said the names will be subject to validation by police anti-drug units, adding that the aggressive war on illegal drugs had the overall net effect of reducing the incidence of other crimes in the country.
As of Aug. 15, the PNP chief said a total of 4,959 HVT personalities have surrendered and are now under monitoring and evaluation, while 2,825 others or 28.32 percent were arrested and charged.
“Only 258 HVT personalities died in police operations or 2.58 percent out of the 9,972 target personalities,” he said.
The PNP chief said there are 654 HVT personalities who can no longer be located in their last known addresses and areas of operation, while 322 other HVT personalities had become victims of homicide cases under investigation. With PNA