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Lawmaker calls for coordination, info sharing vs drug smugglers

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With both International and local syndicates are now using sophisticated ways to smuggle illegal drugs into the country, the chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, said that drug proliferation has become so dangerous and complicated, considering that the Duterte administration has been waging war against drugs.

Barbers, who like Senator Manny Pacquiao is also bothered by the recent billions of pesos of shabu being slipped in the country.

Read: Pacquiao files a resolution to probe drug smuggling at Customs

Anent to this, the panel chairman issued a statement after hearing the testimonies of officials from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency during the initial committee hearing on what the PDEA alleged was a shipment of P6.8 billion worth of methamphetamine hydro chloride, or shabu, that slipped through the Customs.

Barbers further said that the lack of coordination on intelligence information sharing between government agencies, specifically the BOC and PDEA, contributed to the brazen smuggling of illegal drugs.

According to Barbers, drug syndicates tried to mislead and confuse BOC and other law-enforcement officials by using multiple routes, like Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and different consignees for their shipments that led to the same address.

He pointed out on the case of an abandoned shipment with P2.4 billion worth of shabu seized on August 7 at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), and another shipment in Cavite discovered on August 9 by the PDEA, which they claimed that circumstantial evidence pointed to shabu. However, President Rodrigo Duterte said that it is just a speculation from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s claims that P6.8 billion worth of shabu came into the country in magnetic lifters recently recovered empty in Cavite. However, PDEA explained that they made that conclusion because their K9 dogs sat down as they sniffed the lifting equipment, signifying that the dogs had identified traces of illegal drugs.

The shipment containing the four magnetic scrap lifters that were discovered in Cavite arrived at the MICP from Taiwan, but other reports indicated it actually came from Vietnam. Given this conflicting statements, Barbers said, “The syndicates are really trying to outsmart us and the only way to address the drug scourge was through close collaboration among the relevant parties.”

PDEA officials said that they received an earlier intelligence report about the possible entry of a shabu shipment and the ones found in a Cavite warehouse resembled the intelligence report.

However, during a recent congressional hearing, the four magnetic lifters that were tested were allegedly negative for illegal drugs, while the PDEA maintained that the equipment had traces of shabu.

Read: No proof that P6.8-B shabu was in lifters, President Duterte

For the officials of the BOC-MICP, they said that they just followed procedures in releasing a shipment, which the PDEA claimed to have contained P6.8 billion worth of shabu. The BOC defended to the lawmakers that MICP officials were not remiss in their duties in releasing the said shipment, which the PDEA insisted was part of the P2.4-billion abandoned shabu shipment seized at the MICP.

The abandoned shabu shipment with magnetic lifters arrived at the MICP from Taiwan, China was consigned to SMYD Trading with address at 6/F Suite 605A Victoria Building, 429 UN Avenue, Manila and the shipment has assessed duties and taxes totaling P157,673 and was also tagged “RED” in  the BOC’s Selectivity System, which requires x-ray inspection. However, the x-ray results, yielded “no suspect” or no suspicious image. Given this result, the subject shipment was not physically examined anymore in accordance with Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña’s memorandum dated September 26, 2017 which says, “all shipments tagged RED are not required to undergo 100 percent  x-ray Inspection and only those with suspicious images shall forthwith be physically examined.”

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