The Philippine National Police said Thursday it would hunt down dismissed Police Col. Eduardo Acierto and other personalities allegedly involved in the smuggling of illegal drugs concealed inside magnetic lifters last year.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], we were able to secure the copies of the warrants of arrest, and we are now conducting manhunt operations,” PNP Chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde told reporters in a press conference.
“We have tracker teams created from the CIDG [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group],” he added.
PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said it was up to the court to decide on where the suspects would be detained.
Aside from Acierto, Judge Ma. Bernardita Santos of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 35 also issued arrest warrants for former Customs Intelligence Officer Jimmy Guban; former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo; Chan Yee Wah alias KC Chan; Zhou Quan alias Zhang Quan; consignees Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr.; Maria Lagrimas Catipan; and Emily Luquingan.
Guban was already taken into custody by the National Bureau of Investigation last April 17. The arrest order, dated April 12, 2019, set no bail.
Earlier, prosecutors led by Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat cleared 32 others in the drug smuggling charges for lack for evidence.
The panel also endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation the complaint for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 (dereliction of duty and grave misconduct) against former Bureau of Customs Commissioner and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general, Isidro Lapeña, Fajardo, Acierto, Guban, dismissed Port of Manila District Collector Vener Baquiran, and BOC X-ray Inspection Project head Zsae Carrie de Guzman.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service officer Gorgonio Necessario, Customs Operating Office IV Dolores Domingo, BOC shift supervision Benjamin Cajucom, BOC X-ray operator and analyst Manuel Martinez, Customs employees Joseph Dimayuga and John Mar Morales have also been endorsed for preliminary investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Previously, Acierto linked former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang to the illegal drug trade.
The PNP, however, said Yang was not included in any watchlist or investigation of a person with links to illegal drugs.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself slammed Acierto for making unfounded allegations, stressing that Yang “is a plain businessman and has solid integrity.”
The President also called Acierto a “corrupt” policeman allegedly involved in kidnapping, including that of South Korean national Jee Ick-joo, who was killed inside Camp Crame.