Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña is said to be in “hot water” following the discovery of billions of pesos worth of shabu that slipped past the Manila International Container Port and were hidden in four magnetic lifters that were cleared and released by the agency, an official said Thursday.
The official made his statement even as Customs spokesman Dino Austria on Thursday denied that Lapeña did not act on the supposed evidence that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained something, and possibly shabu.
Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Austria said
Lapeña ordered an investigation on the alleged shabu smuggling, contrary to the claim of Deputy Collector for Operations and Assistant Project Manager of CMTA PMO Maria Lourdes Mangaoang.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency discovered the four emptied magnetic lifters in Cavite that were said to have contained P6.8 billion worth of shabu and were found to have traces of the illegal drug.
Mangaoang said the magnetic lifters recovered in a warehouse in Cavite contained shabu as shown by x-ray images, but Lapeña did not take action on the matter.
Mangaoang said the X-ray images of the magnetic lifters revealed cloudy parts, indicating that something was inside the containers.
The lifters had reportedly been emptied by the time PDEA operatives got to the warehouse.
The 1,000 kilograms of shabu entered the country through four magnetic scrap lifters, making them undetectable through X-ray.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said government agents found the magnetic lifters empty in a warehouse inside the CRS Subdivision, Barangay F. Reyes, in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite.
The PDEA and PNP have listed “at least 19” people of interest, which includes 11 Chinese.
Meanwhile, Lapeña denied the rumors he would soon be axed from his post.
“I would like to inform the public, the men and women of the Bureau of Customs and the BOC stakeholders that there is no truth to the rumors circulating that I will soon be replaced as Customs commissioner,” Lapeña said in a statement.