MANILA – A Makati court has started trial on a former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) executive and a warehouse caretaker implicated in the 2016 raid of a big shabu laboratory in Virac, Catanduanes.
Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 63 Presiding Judge Selma Alaras on Wednesday received the testimony of the prosecution’s first witness against lawyer Augusto Eric Isidoro, a former official of the NBI Anti-Illegal Drugs Unit, and warehouse caretaker Lorenzo Piñera II alias Lawrence and Kidot.
Isidoro, who also served as acting director of the NBI-Central Mindanao regional office, is accused of conspiracy to manufacture dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals, along with 4 other accused, while Piñera faces charges of illegal possession and manufacture of dangerous drugs in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The prosecution’s first witness, Police Lt. Col. Alex Pederio, formerly of the Philippine National Police Region V Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs unit, identified Piñera as the caretaker of the mega shabu lab in Barangay Palta Small, Virac, Catanduanes, which police raided on Nov. 26, 2016.
The raid yielded 22.509 kilos of shabu and over 359 kilos of ephedrine and other chemicals.
The mega shabu lab, which reportedly began operating in 2015, is believed to have produced 300 kilos of illegal drugs a day worth an estimated P1.5 billion, according to local authorities.
Pederio also alleged during his testimony that it was Isidoro’s common-law wife, Angelica Balmadrid, who leased the lot where the mega shabu lab was found.
The other co-accused – Xian Xian Wang, Pido Bonito, Paolo Uy, Jayson Uy, Paolo Palisoc, Phung Yuan Estorco, Sheng Wang and Raymond Lee all remain at large. Some of the accused were allegedly tipped off by NBI agents or local police.
In December last year, the Makati court denied Wang’s bid to junk the charge and the warrant of arrest against him.