Lapeña: No basis to say ton of shabu out on streets

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Lapeña: No basis to say ton of shabu out on streets
EMPTY: A Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent examines one of four magnetic lifters following a raid on a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite last week. The lifters were empty, but PDEA dogs detected traces of illegal drugs worth an estimated P6.8 billion.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines — Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Tuesday contradicted the head of the country's anti-drugs agency, saying the four magnetic lifters suspected of carrying illegal drugs tested negative for them.

Lapeña contradicted the assertion of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino last week that a ton of methamphetamine could have already made its way to Philippine streets following their failure to seize the illegal substance in a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite.

Speaking during the hearing of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, the BOC chief said: "The allegation that one ton of shabu is circulating in the market has no basis based on the result of laboratory analysis from the PDEA and [Philippine National Police], four magnetic lifters have no presence of dangerous drugs."

"As government authorities, we have to be prudent in providing unverified information to the general public to allay further fear and confusion," Lapeña added.

The magnetic lifters were empty, but Aquino said that the method was similar to that used in smuggling P4.3 billion worth of shabu at the Port of Manila last week.

Dogs detect drugs; swab test comes out negative

Aquino said that an estimated P6.8 billion worth of illegal drugs was contained in the magnetic filters.

He added that dogs detected traces of illegal drugs in the empty magnetic lifters.

Lapeña however said that based on a swab analysis of the magnetic filters and aluminum foil in the area done by the PNP, PDEA chemists and BOC, no trace of dangerous drugs was found.

"On August 9, the PNP [Scene of Crime Operatives] team, PDEA chemist and the BOC processed the crime scene, the four magnetic lifters, including the aluminum foil in the area, was swabbed and examined for possible presence of shabu, but this yielded negative result for the presence of dangerous drugs," he said.

Intel sharing needed

He also reiterated his call for the timely sharing of intelligence information to more effectively protect the country's borders and prevent the entry of illegal drugs in the country.

"We would have put the full weight of our capabilities had we received timely information," Lapeña said.

He said that this was demonstrated by the successful interception of 355 kg of illegal drugs last week.

Lapeña also stressed that mechanisms are in place at the BOC to prevent the entry of illegal drugs.

He said that his agency had been conducting intensified efforts against smuggling and illegal drugs, adding he would not allow the country's ports to be used as points of entry for illegal drugs.





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