Lapeña no-show at shabu smuggling probe

Ryan Macasero - Philstar.com
Lapeña no-show at shabu smuggling probe
Former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña did not resign from his post but he was assigned to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña was a no-show on Tuesday's Senate probe into the alleged P11-billion smuggled shabu that slipped past the BOC.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon said that Lapeña's absence was due to "change of command." 

On Thursday, October 24, President Rodrigo Duterte moved Lapeña from the BOC to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority after admission that the magnetic lifters seized by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in August may have contained at least P6.8 billion worth in shabu.

According to PDEA, the shabu in the lifters may cost P11 billion.

READ: Duterte transfers Isidro Lapeña to TESDA

"I made a statement that the change of command can be done at another time," Gordon said.

"If the Senate is on vacation and we are still conducting a hearing and that should be respected by Sid Lapeña," he added.

In the same announcement made last week, Duterte named Leonardo Rey Guerrero, former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief who most recently served as Maritime Industry Authority administrator, as the new Customs commissioner.

READ: Senators question Lapeña’s ‘promotion’ to TESDA

Also a no-show was Marina dela Cruz Signapan, owner of SMYD trading, the consignee of the drug shipment.

Signapan's lawyer, Katrina Talon, appeared at the committee on her behalf. Talon said Signapan was not feeling well due to threats to her life. 

Two weeks ago, she was called to attend an investigation at the BOC.

"On the next day, at 6 am, police officers came to her house to serve a search warrant for an entirely different cause," Talon told the committee. 

"They were searching for handguns and pistols. She was not home, but the search warrant was served. They ransacked her house but found none," Signapan's legal counsel added.

Talon said she found it suspicious that an unrelated search warrant would be issued only a day after the BOC investigation. 

On Monday, Duterte announced in Davao City that he would place the embattled bureau under the control of the AFP. 

READ: Duterte places Customs under military control l Duterte Year 2: Biggest drug bust bags a bodegero 

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