Collector Carmelita Talusan, the Customs chief at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, vowed she and her men will continue and intensify the bureau’s campaign against the illegal entry of prohibited drugs and other contraband even there are risks involved.
“We just focus and we know what our function regardless of the risk and threats. We just focus on our jobs and we are also doing this for the good of our country,” Talusan told Manila Standard.
Sources at the airport revealed that some Customs operatives at the NAIA were receiving threats from unknown individuals following the series of anti-drug operations at the airport and its bonded warehouse, and at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City.
They said the criminals also dared to smuggle illegal substance despite the ongoing drug war in the country initiated by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In just six months, agents of the Customs-NAIA made a total of 27 drug busts, the most recent of which was the seizure of P27.5 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride, cocaine and cannabis seized in separate occasions at CMEC.
The contraband include different packages of P850,000 worth of marijuana (500 grams) concealed in portable heater, P14.3 million of shabu declared as baby dress and birthday card, and P12.3 million worth of cocaine declared as supplementary sheet, which were already turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposition.
Last Oct. 4, Talusan presented P15.4 million worth of prohibited drugs smuggled at CMEC and Fedex warehouse. Seized were 2.21 kilos of shabu, 48 oil ampules and 12 pieces of small plastic container with jelly marmalade that were found to have cannabis or marijuana content, and several boxes of Valium and Mogadon, concealed in five packages.
The illegal drugs from Thailand, USA, Africa, and Pakistan were hidden in foot and calf massager, religious frame, letter, boxing gloves and baseball jersey and clothes.
Talusan’s men also intercepted some P37.3 million worth of illegal drugs including 5,239 grams of shabu which were concealed in various items like a baby carrier, camera, finance magazines and bar tools. The contraband were interdicted last May, June, and July respectively.
Aside from shabu, 1,000 pieces of party drugs known as ecstacy, which was concealed in wooden toys, were seized on July 20, according to Talusan.
The seizures, Talusan said, were due to consistent “reform initiatives and his five-point program of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña.”
She added that some of the seized shabu was intended to be exported to New Zealand. The shabu mostly came from the United States while the ecstacy came from Germany.
Talusan also noted that a thorough joint knowledge of x-ray scanners and frontliners also led to effective apprehensions.
Lapeña said the bureau continues the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte and will continue to ensue vigilance in protecting the borders.
The Customs executive said the continuing apprehension meant that “we are winning the war against drugs.”
Since August 30, 2017, the agency has been very proactive and relentless in its effort to combat the smuggling of illegal drugs. The bureau was able to intercept an estimated P3.436 billion worth of illegal drugs and arrested a total of 23 drug personalities.
“The Bureau of Customs is very much on board in the country’s war against drugs and we will exert our efforts to continue protecting our nation and prevent the use of our ports in the smuggling of illegal drugs into the country,” said Lapeña.
Shabu, marijuana and ecstasy are the top three narcotics distributed in the streets and these prohibited substances are manufactured by Chinese, Taiwanese and Mexican drug syndicates, according to PDEA.