49 individuals charged over P11-B shabu smuggling case except Lapeña

Marje Pelayo   •   December 13, 2018   •   4257

 

The magnetic lifters that allegedly concealed 1,618 kilograms of illegal drugs valued at P11-billion

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has filed charges against 49 individuals involved in the billion-peso shabu shipment concealed inside four magnetic lifters that slipped Customs screening in August.

Former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, however, was not among the respondents because according to PDEA, there wasn’t any strong evidence to prove Lapeña’s direct involvement in the transactions.

“We haven’t seen any evidence that will link directly former commissioner Lapeña sa mga kaso and that is why he was not included in filing of the case,” Aquino said.

“After this we will provide copies to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, (and) maybe with the Ombudsman.  I think they have more authority to file administrative cases,” he added.

Among the main respondents in the complaint are some officials of PDEA, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to include Former Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto; Former PDEA Dir. Gen. For Administration Ismael Gonzales Fajardo; Former Customs Intelligence Agent Jimmy Guban; Police Inspector Lito Pirote; and Joseph Dimayuga for alleged conspiracy and negligence in handling of the said shipment.

The PDEA noted that they included Guban in the case despite him being under the state’s witness protection program.

“We actually consider him as principal person of interest or suspect so I don’t think we will recommend his inclusion in the WPP,’ said Director IV Czareanah Aquino of the PDEA Legal Prosecution Service

In a text message, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured to get into the root of the matter.

“We’ll evaluate the matter seriously,” he said.

The case stemmed from the inquiry conducted by both Houses of Congress which revealed names of personalities, including some Chinese nationals, corporate entities and high-ranking PDEA officials allegedly involved in the said illegal transaction.

A total of 335 kilograms of shabu were discovered in August 7, 2018 at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

A day after, a similar shipment estimated at 1,618 kilograms of illegal drugs valued at P11-billion were discovered concealed in four magnetic lifters inside an abandoned warehouse in Barangay F. Reyes, General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite . The series of operations yielded the biggest illegal drugs haul in the country to date. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

Duterte mulls another Customs revamp

Marje Pelayo   •   July 8, 2019

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. | KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte hinted on axing more employees from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) due to another cycle of corruption in the agency.

“Iyan ang problema ng Pilipinas (That’s the problem in the Philippines). So I have three years. When I go back, I would be firing more from the Bureau of Customs” the President announced on Friday (July 5) during the inauguration of a rice processing center in Alangalang, Leyte.

He also mentioned his earlier proposal of bringing in the military into the BOC because of the rampant corruption and drug smuggling in the agency.

“I am just telegraphing. Then maybe ilagay ko na sa Army talaga lahat ‘yang nasa ano (Then maybe I’ll place the army there in [BOC]). Hindi na ako maniwala niyan (I don’t believe) they are not allowed to work,” Duterte said.

“Since I cannot depend on the idiots, what should I do? Follow the rule that itong mga army, police, hindi makadala. And if my country is sinking, you want me to follow a rule that cannot help my country? I will not,” he stressed.

It will be recalled that Senator Panfilo Lacson had earlier said corruption remained “business as usual” inside the BOC because the “tara system” and illegal shipments such as drug smuggling remain in operation.

In October 2018, President Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take over the BOC after billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs slipped past the Customs screening. – with details from Rosalie Coz

EcoWaste slams botched plastic waste shipment from Hong Kong

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 24, 2019

Courtesy : Ecowaste Coalition Facebook page

EcoWaste Coalition slammed the mixed plastic waste shipment found at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental from Hong Kong.

During the inspection of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Region 10
led by port collector John Simon on Wednesday (May 22), they found a 40- footer container van. It contained 22 sling bags weighing 25,610 kilograms of mixed plastic waste instead of the declared “assorted electronic accessories.”

“We denounce this latest attempt to bring into the country over 25 tons of mixed plastic waste from Hong Kong amid our nation’s ongoing efforts to send back similar illegal waste shipments from Canada and South Korea,” according to Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Reports say the shipment arrived in the country last January 2, 2019.
The cargo was shipped by Hin Yuen Tech. Env. Limited and was consigned to Crowd Win Industrial Limited.

The BOC Region 10 already issued an alert order and a warrant of seizure and detention on February 19 and March 7, 2019 in violation of Section 1400 (misdeclaration) in relation to Section 117 (lack of permit) of Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

EcoWaste also reported that the BOC Region 10 will also initiate an action to re-export of the illegal shipment back to Hong Kong.

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