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Compelled by House panel, PDEA chief attends shabu shipment probe

Mara Cepeda
Compelled by House panel, PDEA chief attends shabu shipment  probe
(UPDATED) Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino arrives at the House hearing on the same day his leave of absence from the agency ended

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino, a no-show two weeks ago, attended the House committee on dangerous drugs’ second hearing on the alleged smuggling of P6.8-billion worth shabu (methamphetamine) into the country. 

Aquino arrived in the Andaya Hall of the Batasang Pambansa a little past 10 am on Thursday, August 30. (READ: House resumes probe into missing P6.8-B shabu shipment

On August 14, the House panel decided to write Aquino a “strongly-worded” letter compelling his attendance to the hearings.

It was Antipolo 2nd District Representative Romeo Acop, a retired police general, who wanted the letter written after he questioned Aquino’s absence during the motu proprio investigation. 

Aquino was about to go on his leave at the time, but he clarified that he had filed it 6 months before one ton of shabu allegedly escaped the country’s frontline anti-drug agencies. 

During the first hearing on August 14, lawmakers tried to end the tussle between the PDEA and the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The two agencies were blaming each other after the discovery of empty giant magnetic lifters in a Cavite warehouse which were thought to contain shabu.

The PDEA was quick to impute “corrupt” Customs employees, while the BOC pointed the failure of the PDEA and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to share intelligence on the alleged illegal drugs shipment. 

Aquino prevously admitted to Rappler that PDEA and PNP got intelligence information about the shipment on July 16, but only shared the information to BOC on July 18. By then, it was too late to hunt down the alleged illegal drugs.

He said they did not share the information to the BOC at the time because it was still hearsay. He also blamed alleged corrupt officials from BOC for the smuggling of the illegal drugs. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.