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Sunday, August 25, 2019
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Tell it to SunStar: Smuggling of drugs

AROUND 16 million Filipino voters believed Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to end drugs, crime and corruption in “three to six months.”

In his more than two years in power, around 20,000 alleged drug pushers and users became victims of President Duterte’s all-out bloody war on drugs. In his 2018 State of the Nation Address (Sona), President Duterte promised that his war on drugs will continue and it will be “relentless and chilling.”

Yet, the relentless and chilling war on drugs seems chilling and scary only to the ordinary pushers and users but not to big-time drug smugglers and syndicates. What happened in the previous months at the Bureau of Customs where shabu (methamphetamine) worth billions of pesos were smuggled illustrates that his anti-drug campaign is clearly bogus, and designed to hoodwink a gullible people.

In 2017, the Customs bureau failed to stop a giant drug haul at its ports, involving P6.4 billion shabu shipment. The second drug haul, cleared by Customs in July this year, involved a mind-boggling 1.618 tons of shabu, worth P 11.8 billion, making it reportedly the biggest case of drug smuggling in the entire history of our country and significantly happening during the present Duterte administration.

What makes this drug smuggling business highly suspicious was that when the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) discovered that tons of smuggled shabu were placed inside the magnetic lifters, then Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña contradicted PDEA, stating that the shipment underwent proper Customs clearance and that the magnetic lifters did not contain shabu.

President Duterte, who had earlier dismissed reports about the shabu in the magnetic lifters as “pure speculation” continued to back Isidro Lapeña despite the claim of PDEA and that of former Customs X-ray division chief and Deputy Customs Commissioner Lourdes Mangaoang.

Finally, after so much public denial, then Bureau of Customs commissioner Lapeña admitted last Oct. 24 that the magnetic lifters may, in fact, have contained illegal drugs.

What makes this episode more interesting is that the President was reportedly told all along that the magnetic lifters contained the huge shipment of shabu. This is confirmed by the statement of Deputy Commissioner Mangaoang, who said, “As I understand, Aquino (PDEA chief) has explained this case to the President and showed him the evidence. The President has been quiet so far, but as far as I know, he knows that there are drugs in those containers.”

President Duterte openly encourages extra-judicially killings because he “hates” drugs. In this drug smuggling involving shabu worth P11.8 billion, why is he not ordering the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation so he can prosecute the culprits? And instead of punishing Lapeña, why did he promote him to the Cabinet?

Is the President not worried that people will suspect that his bloody war on drugs is a bogus war? --Democrito C. Barcenas


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