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Customs deputy on floating status; ‘cleansing’ begins

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Monday sacked the deputy collector who accused Customs officials of covering up the smuggling of P6.8 billion worth of shabu through four magnetic lifters.

READ: Drug lords out to get me—BOC chief

Customs deputy collector Lourdes Mangaoang, the former X-ray division chief, was put on floating status, allegedly for underperformance.

Customs spokesman Erastus Austria denied she was transferred to silence her and said she was moved because of the “ongoing internal cleansing of corrupt Customs officials.”

However, a NAIA-BOC official, who requested anonymity said that Mangaoang was doing her job since the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where she was posted is one of the top BOC ports that exceeded its collection target of P3.587 billion in September this year.

Mangaoang said her assignment at the airport was too short for an evaluation, saying she only assumed office at the NAIA on Aug. 27.

She said her removal was a warning to stop her from testifying against Lapeña or “worse will come.”

But Austria said Lapeña removed Mangaoang 11 days before she testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

In her testimony, Managaoang insisted that the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained illegal drugs, contrary to Lapeña’s assertion that they did not.

READ: Shabu mess: Plot thickens

Aside from removing Mangaoang from her post, Lapeña also ordered a lifestyle check on her.

“Our internal cleansing and anti-corruption efforts must be hurting people from within and outside the organization that I feel there is a concerted effort to discredit the reforms we are doing,” Lapeña added.

The Palace said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino and Lapeña, who have been at odds over the smuggled shabu.

“He still trusts the two,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo also said the Palace would await the results of an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation.

Aquino has been adamant that the four magnetic lifters had contained shabu that has now flooded the market. Lapeña insists no drugs were inside the lifters.

READ: Customs, PDEA still at odds over shabu

Topics: Isidro Lapeña , Lourdes Mangaoang , Erastus Austria , Ninoy Aquino International Airport , Salvador Panelo
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