PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte advised the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Tuesday, November 6, to "stop speculating" on the value of the illegal drugs that may have been kept inside four empty magnetic lifters discovered in Cavite in August.
Duterte said the PDEA "wrongly assumed" that the amount of missing shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) from the empty magnetic lifters may have reached one ton with an estimated value of P11 billion, nearly double the initial P6.8-billion estimate.
"They are assuming na puno. 'Yun ang ano ng PDEA because assuming that that lifters there puno, that's why they pegged it at [P11 billion]. Hindi man," the President said during the lecture on militarization and drugs.
(They are assuming that the empty magnetic lifters were full. That's the assumption of the PDEA. That's why they pegged it at [P11 billion]. No, it's not.)
"They wrongly assumed na puno 'yon (those were full). Kaya (So) from P6 million, they increased the [estimate]. That cannot stand in court. Sabihin mo (You said) how much? Why did you assume that is one what? The price of [it is P11] billion?" he added.
To recall, Duterte said on August 14 that it was "pure speculation" on the part of the PDEA that the empty lifters had contained an estimated P6.8 billion worth of shabu and that the illegal substance may already be circulating on the streets.
On October 25, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the four empty magnetic lifters may have contained a total of 1.618 tons of shabu with an estimated market value of P11 billion.
While he believed it could be "good" to reveal the PDEA'S findings, Duterte told the agency not to further speculate as it may impart the "wrong information" to the public.
"Well, anyway then you fueled the suspicion of the public. It could be good to expose it. Of course, I would insist on that," Duterte said. "Pero iyong (But) next time, you stop from speculating because you feed to the public a wrong information thereby at a certain point."
The shabu haul that allegedly slipped past the Bureau of Customs had prompted Duterte to transfer former Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Lapeña initially denied that the magnetic lifters contained shabu. He, however, later on admitted that it may have contained the illegal substance, but that the value could not have reached the PDEA estimate of P11 billion. (SunStar Philippines)