By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña still has the full trust and confidence of President Duterte despite the P6.8-billion shabu shipment which was reported to have slipped past the agency.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino’s said that Lapeña should be held liable if it is proven that the contraband indeed got past the country’s ports.
In his press briefing Thursday, Panelo said that Lapeña probably still has Duterte’s trust as the President has not said anything about it yet.
“Well, the President has not said anything about losing trust and confidence, so the presumption is he has the full trust and confidence of the President,” he said.
Panelo said that the Palace is awaiting the investigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the matter before making any move.
“The DOJ has ordered an investigation. The NBI is presently conducting the subject matter. So hopefully after the findings, we will undertake positive action regarding the matter,” he said.
“Under investigation pa (It’s still being investigated),” he added.
Aquino, in an interview over Super Radyo DZBB, said that it is only natural for Lapeña to take the fall in case it is proven that drugs got past the ports. However, he said that it is still too early for heads to roll.
In August this year, President Duterte slammed PDEA’s claim that such shipment got past the BOC and is now possibly being peddled in the streets following the seizure of four empty magnetic lifters in a warehouse in Cavite the same month.
According to the President, PDEA’s claim is pure speculation, saying that there were no drugs found when the magnetic lifters were opened.
“And they also presumed that is was full of shabu. And they just made an assumption of the price. But there was really none and I am not convinced [that there was],” Duterte had said.
The President then told PDEA officials to not speculate on drug hauls in the future.
“You cannot speculate that you recovered containers. They are not containers but the magnetic [lifters],” Duterte said.
PDEA earlier said that there were traces of illegal drugs detected in the containers with the help of sniffer dogs. Lapeña, however, said in a House hearing on the said shipment that the magnetic lifters tested negative for drug residue.
Lapeña also told lawmakers that PDEA had no basis for making such statement.