By Ellson Quismorio
AKO-Bicol Party-List Rep. Alfredo Garbin criticized the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for claiming that the four magnetic lifters recovered in GMA, Cavite contained a ton of shabu worth P6.8 billion after it was found later to not have the illegal substance inside the lifters.
“All investigations and official pronouncements must be evidence-based especially if it is damaging to another government institution,” said Garbin, a senior deputy of House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.
Garbin said the PDEA, which insisted that the shipment that cleared security checks at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) contained the “poor man’s cocaine” is practically accusing the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of sleeping on the job.
PDEA and BOC officials recently faced off in an inquiry conducted by the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs wherein the latter highlighted that swab tests on the confiscated lifters showed no trace of shabu.
“The four magnetic lifters including the aluminum foils [found] in the area were swabbed and examined for the possible presence of shabu but this yielded negative results for the presence of dangerous drugs,” BOC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said.
PDEA argued that “circumstantial evidence” pointed to the presence of shabu in the lifters at one time, since they earlier received an intelligence report of an incoming huge shipment of the illegal drug.
Also, the magnetic lifters discovered in Cavite last August 9 were very similar to the abandoned lifters found two days earlier at MICP. Within those lifters were P2.4 billion worth of shabu.
But Garbin, a lawyer, says circumstantial evidence won’t cut it. “PDEA cannot venture into speculation, much less to circumstantial evidence. To prove drug cases is to present concrete evidence, and the quantum of proof needed is beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
“So I admonish PDEA to be circumspect in performing their duties, at the same time give them the benefit of the doubt in going after drug dealers,” Garbin further said.