MANILA – Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday raised questions on the seizure of P1 billion worth of shabu at a warehouse in Malabon City last week.
In a privilege speech, Lacson noted that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) jointly inspected the shipment and confirmed that it contained illegal drugs.
The inspection was made after the shipment was forfeited in favor of the government on March 1 due to the consignee’s failure to file an import entry with the Customs.
However, instead of seizing the shipment, the two agencies agreed to auction it off, in violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. The two agencies argued that this was meant to bait the owners of the contraband.
Goldwin Commercial, owner of the Malabon warehouse where it was later seized, placed the highest bid.
Lacson said the contraband's auction was illegal and could not have necessarily lured the real owners of the shipment.
“’Controlled delivery’ my foot!” Lacson said.
“[Did] Customs and PDEA officials really expect the owners of this shipment to actually participate in the said public auction knowing fully well that forfeited and seized commodities undergo 100-percent physical examination prior to disposition?”
Lacson has long been campaigning against corruption at the customs bureau, which has been embroiled in several controversies involving illegal drugs that slipped port inspections.
Lacson also noted that a report signed by PDEA Regional Director III Joel Plaza on March 11 stated that the specimen from the shipment “do not contain any dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals."
After the auction, the shipment was eventually delivered on May 22 to the Malabon warehouse.
While the contents of the shipment was being cleaned, one of the aluminum pallets accidentally fell off, which exposed an aluminum foil containing illegal drugs, Lacson said, prompting the winning bidder to report the incident to the BOC.
“It does not take much to figure out the holes in the plot that some not-so-smart characters in these agencies tried to fabricate but failed miserably,” Lacson said.
“Simply put, this is a case of dishonesty with the intention of misleading the public.”
The PDEA earlier said it found no evidence linking the owners of the warehouse to the drug trade.