By Mario Casayuran
Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, disputed yesterday the position taken by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that there was no P6.8-billion worth of shabu that came in through a customs-bonded warehouse (CBW) in the General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite last August.
‘’I am convinced there were drugs,’’ Gordon said, adding that the Chinese went to the warehouse with grinders, took the drugs from magnetic lifters and left in their cars.
‘’You can tell the President that I said so. I am a lawyer. This is a signal for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate it thoroughly. The PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) has the goods. The PNP has to follow the presidential line,’’ he stressed.
The PNP and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have stated that they took cotton swabs on the magnetic lifters at the Cavite warehouse, using the PDEA laboratory. The result showed the magnetic lifters were negative of traces of shabu.
PDEA, earlier, stated that it used the same laboratory in swabbing a container van, and came out with a negative result.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino had stated that they seized P4 billion worth of shabu from the same container van.
Asked why his assessment contradicted the position of the President as told top to him by the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership, Gordon told Senate reporters that the President was ‘’running at 360,000 miles per hour’’ in administering the Philippine government.
‘’We must investigate this to its conclusion,’’ he added.
During the committee hearing, Gordon told Aquino and Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapena that the Department of Foreign Affairs and ambassadors to key Asian nations to maintain friendly relations with them with the aim of regulating the entry of their citizens involved in illegal drugs from coming into the country.
‘’There is an invasion of heavy drugs. They (foreign drug lords) are using different (strategies), making it difficult to discover their methodology,’’ he said reporters after conducting a five-hour public hearing on the drug problem.
He said the Philippines has to contend with the sophistication being used by foreign drug lords as they know how to hide their illegal drugs.
Although the customs bureau has X-ray machines to detect suspicious cargoes in container vans, Gordon conceded that customs personnel need training as some corrupt personnel deliberately look the other way for a fee.
Since it has considerably increased revenues, the customs bureau should buy more X-ray machines, Gordon said.
He said the X-ray machines bought in 2012 were overpriced by as much as P4 billion.
During the hearing, Gordon lifted the contempt charges against ‘’consignee for hire’’ Marina dela Cruz, owner of SMYD Trading,’’ who allowed her firm to be the consignee of a shipment from Taiwan that turned out to contain the supposed P6-billion worth of shabu.
Signapan, placed under Senate custody, was finally set free after she admitted to Gordon in executive session that Jimmy Guban of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) forced her to deal with persons who would handle the importation.
Miguela ‘’Meg’’ Santos, also of SMYD, testified that the persons sent to SMYD by Guban were said to be experts in handling guns.
Guban remained in Senate custody because Gordon wanted to get more information from him.
Gordon rejected Guban’s plea to be set free for the sake of camaraderie as he stressed that what the committee needs was the truth.
Senior Supt. Eduardo P. Acierto felt he was dishonorably ousted from the PNP despite his years of impressive record as an anti-drug buster.
Gordon said he was taking Acierto’s claim with a grain of salt.