By Jeffrey Damicog
Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner and current Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro Lapeña and his co-respondents are expected to submit this Monday their response to the criminal complaints concerning the billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs which were smuggled into the country using magnetic lifters in 2018.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of prosecutors, chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat, gave the respondents the directive to submit this Monday their respective counter-affidavits.
The panel has already consolidated and begun conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The case concerns the two magnetic lifters found with illegal drugs at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), as well as the four magnetic lifters at a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez (GMA), Cavite which were believed to have also contained narcotics.
In its January 23 complaint, the NBI accused Lapeña, Vener Baquiran, Zsae Carrie de Guzman, John Mar Morales, and Benjamin Cajucom are accused of having committed dereliction of duty in violation of the Revised Penal Code; violation of Section 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); and grave misconduct in violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees.
The NBI complaint also sought the prosecution of over 40 persons including the three “core conspirators”, namely, former Bureau of Customs (BOC) intelligence officer Jimmy Guban, former PDEA Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo, and dismissed Police Sr. Supt. Eduardo Acierto who was former deputy Anti-Illegal Drug Special Task Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for importation of illegal drugs in violation of Section 26 of RA 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002); violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019; and for grave misconduct.
PDEA’s December 13, 2018 complaint accused 44 respondents including Guban, Fajardo and Acierto also of importation of dangerous drugs, attempt of conspiracy, and liability of a person violating any regulation issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
They are also accused of violating Section 3(e) of RA 3019, and for obstruction of justice in violation Presidential Decree No. 1829, Section 1(c) and the Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Another complaint filed on August 29, 2018, the PDEA accused Chan Yee Wah Albert, Zhang Quan, Vedasto Baraquel Jr., and Maria Lagrimas Catipan of possession of illegal drugs in violation of RA 9165.