MANILA

Customs chief denies rift with PDEA head

AMID investigations into the shabu haul that allegedly slipped past the country's ports, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña clarified Thursday, October 25, that he is on good terms with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.

"'Yung impression na (that) there is a rift [between me and Aquino], no it is not true," Lapeña told Palace reporters in a press conference.

The BOC chief's statement came a day after Duterte told him and Aquino to "stop blaming each other" over the four empty magnetic lifters recovered in Cavite in August.

Aquino has insisted that the magnetic lifters contained shabu, initially estimated at P6.8 billion, while Lapeña initially said these did not contain illegal drugs.

Lapeña said there was "no finger-pointing," amid the controversial shabu shipments.

Earlier Thursday, Aquino said the four magnetic lifters may have contained up to 1.618 tons with an estimated cost of P11 billion.

Lapeña, however, dismissed as mere "speculation" the PDEA's revised estimated value of the alleged missing drugs from the magnetic lifters.

"If we will just look at the four empty containers, that will not, hindi yun mag-reresulta ng P11 billion... Ang sinasabi naman dati is P6.8 billion. That's why I do not know kung bakit naging P11 billion," the BOC chief said.

(If we will just look at the four empty containers, that will not be able to conceal P11 billion worth of shabu. Previously, the claim is it's estimated to be P6.8 billion. That's why I do not know why it became P11 billion.)

"I do not know bakit ganoon lumaki (I do not know why the estimated value became higher). Well, again, it is speculation," he added.

Lapeña, nevertheless, assured the PDEA that the BOC would take the latest development "very seriously."

He added that his agency would continue working with the PDEA to hold accountable the drug syndicates who have not ceased operating in the country.

"We take that very seriously that's why we have to concentrate our efforts in going after drug syndicates and go[ing] after itong mga shipment na nakalusot (the shabu shipments that have slipped past the post inspections)," he said.

"This is now what we are working with PDEA. And we have been working with PDEA... We have an ongoing investigation together. So the cooperation was there," Lapeña added. (SunStar Philippines)


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