PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director Aaron Aquino went on leave amid the controversial discovery of empty magnetic lifters in Cavite.
Aquino's statement that the lifters may have contained methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, was debunked by President Rodrigo Duterte, after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said their swab test showed negative results.
Duterte also cautioned against making any speculation.
Read: Duterte: No drugs in magnetic lifters in Cavite
Aquino on Thursday, August 16, confirmed that he has gone on leave although he did not indicate when it started and how long will it be.
He said it has “long been planned.”
Aquino had raised suspicion that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite may have contained shabu based on the behavior of the K-9 units that inspected these.
He said the four magnetic lifters were capable of storing up to a ton of shabu worth P6.8 billion.
These were similar to the two magnetic lifters that authorities opened on August 7 at the Manila International Container Port. These yielded around 500 kilos of shabu worth P4.3 billion.
Shortly after Aquino made the statement, however, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde said this has not been verified.
Read: Police contradict PDEA on latest drug shipment
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña also contradicted Aquino’s statement, saying the empty magnetic lifters tested negative of illegal drugs following the conduct of swab testing.
It was also reported that in a laboratory test conducted by the PDEA, “qualitative examination conducted on the said swabbings from each of the magnetic lifters and aluminum foils revealed NEGATIVE results to the tests for the presence of dangerous drugs.”
On August 14, the President dismissed Aquino's statement as "pure speculation" and categorically stated that the magnetic lifters in Cavite did not contain any drugs. (SunStar Philippines)