‘He said, she said’ over drug link raps

Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo and Customs Deputy Collector Lourdes Mangaoang have accused each other of being on the payroll of drug lords.

This developed as Mangaoang, the former Bureau of Customs deputy collector at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, denied any hand in ousting her erstwhile boss Isidro Lapeña, who was removed from the post by President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday owing to the billion-peso shabu smuggling controversy.

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“Commissioner Lapeña has had a self-destruction. I am not an instrument or anybody,” Mangaoang said in a radio interview.

“My purpose is to convict people behind the illegal smuggling of drugs,” she added in Filipino.

Meanwhile, with the appointment of Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero as the new Customs chief, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino on Friday vowed to stamp out international drug syndicates.

He said the entire agency was “devastated” over the P11 billion worth of shabu that slipped through Customs and found its way into the streets, and the acquittal of Diana Yu Uy, daughter of convicted drug trader Yu Yuk Lai.

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On his Facebook page, Tulfo accused Mangaoang of having close ties with a former police official linked to the illegal drug trade. He said Mangaoang ws facilitating the entry of illegal drugs supposedly smuggled into the country by the retired police official’s friends.

But in an interview with radio dzBB, Mangaoang denied Tulfo’s allegations and said he held a grudge against her for suing a certain Lee Peng Wee for drug smuggling.

Lee, Mangaoang said, was Tulfo’s benefactor and had bought him a condominium unit and spent for his children’s schooling.

In an interview on radio dzBB, Aquino said he welcomed Guerrero’s appointment, saying he knew him from long before.

“He is not new to us,” he said, adding PDEA and BOC will have a better working relationship.

Aquino also expressed his disappointment over Uy’s acquittal.

“It saddens us. The judge ruled there was lack of probable cause and questioned the issuance of the search warrant, and that we did something irregular,” Aquino said in a separate interview with radio dzMM.

“That pains us when the judge said we planted [the evidence],” he said.

On Nov. 6, 2017, PDEA agents raided Uy’s home on General Solano Street, San Miguel in Manila, and seized at least two kilos of shabu worth P10 million.

Yu alleged one of the anti-narcotics operatives received a P500,000 bribe from her during the raid.

“PDEA strongly disagrees [with that]. We condemn the decision of the court,” Aquino said.

He said PDEA would challenge the decision of Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Daniel Villanueva.

“How can we plant shabu? Where would we get two kilos of shabu when we do not even have a gram of it?” he said.

Also on Friday, police presented three suspected drug traffickers—one of them a military man—who were seized with some 200 grams of shabu worth P1.3 million, during a buy-bust operation at the parking lot of a shopping mall in Parañaque City late Thursday afternoon.

National Capital Region Police Office director Guillermo Eleazar identified the suspects as John Wayne Arnaiz, aka “Bossing,” a discharge member of Philippine Army; and two companions Joseph Cabatbat and Velentin Arnaiz. 

Mangaoang, as the former BOC X-ray chief, had a falling-out with Lapeña in connection with the shabu smuggled through four magnetic lifters seized in Cavite in August.

She welcomed Lapena’s removal from the BOC, but said she could not care less about her next post.

“I really don’t care where I would be assigned. But I am happy that he was relieved from the bureau,” she said. With Vito Barcelo and Joel E. Zurbano

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Topics: Ramon Tulfo , Lourdes Mangaoang , Bureau of Customs , Ninoy Aquino International Airport , Rodrigo Duterte
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