PDEA chief insists magnetic lifters in Cavite contained shabu

Mara Cepeda
PDEA chief insists magnetic lifters in Cavite contained shabu
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino tags as 'unfair' criticisms being hurled at him that he was wrong in announcing the magnetic lifters contained illegal drugs

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino stood by his earlier statement that the 4 magnetic lifters intercepted in Cavite contained P6.8 billion worth of smuggled shabu or methamphetamine. 

Aquino finally showed up on Thursday, August 30 during the second day of the House committee on dangerous drugs’ investigation on the alleged one-ton shabu shipment that slipped past the PDEA, Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine National Police.

During the hearing, Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo asked Aquino, “Are you convinced that those 4 magnetic lifters in GMA (General Mariano Alvarez) contained illegal drugs?”

Aquino replied, “Yes sir, they contained illegal drugs.”

He also said that allegations being thrown against him that he was wrong to announce the magnetic lifters had contained shabu were “unfair.” (READ: PDEA urged to recant statement magnetic lifters contain P6.8-B shabu)

“Precisely, it’s unfair. Because I’m just telling the truth and precisely, the truth and the goodness will prevail,” said Aquino. 

How did Aquino defend himself? He reiterated that PDEA’s K-9 dog “responded twice” to every magnetic lifter when they inspected the warehouse in Cavite.  

“And we all know that K-9 can detect scents 10,000 times better [than] a human being. And I know that because I was once assigned in a K-9 unit during my junior days. Definitely we believe in our K-9. In fact, I’m buying 100 K-9 dogs this September to enhance and strengthen our capabilities in our seaports and airports,” said Aquino.  

PDEA Calabarzon Regional Director Adrian Alvariño also presented to lawmakers their findings so far on the alleged shabu shipment. He insisted that circumstantial evidence indicate that the 4 magnetic lifters used to contain shabu.

He said the magnetic lifters seized in Cavite shared similarities with another two magnetic lifters that were found to contain more than 355 kilos of shabu at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT)

Alvariño said all 6 magnetic lifters shared the same cables, power supplies, and method of concealment through asbestos, foil, and plastic 

But what about PDEA’s negative swab test? On August 15, Rappler obtained a copy of the PDEA laboratory report that shows their swab test on the 4 magnetic lifters in Cavite yielded negative for drugs. (READ: PDEA restricts Rappler coverage access after story on P6.8-B shabu

But on Thursday, Aquino claimed the two magnetic lifters seized at the MICT also allegedly tested negative for drugs in the joint swab test of PDEA and the PNP.  He said this is despite the authorities being able to recover the shabu from the containers. 

“Sir, we swabbed, the PDEA, the forensic chemist of the Philippine National Police jointly swabbed the two container vans or magnetic lifters that were seized in MICT… It’s negative! So it doesn’t mean ‘pag negative, walang drugs (if the results are negative, there are no drugs)!” said Aquino.

Aquino, who hails from Davao, likened the detection of drugs to the scent of durian.

“Kasi taga-Davao ako. Subukan mong maglagay ng durian sa sasakyan. Put it in a jar completely sealed. Walang natapon na durian, walang lahat. Sumakay ka. Ano’ng unang maamoy mo? Durian,” he said. 

(I’m from Davao. Try to put durian in a car. Put it in a jar completely sealed. Let’s say the durian did not spill from the jar. You ride the car. What would you smell? Durian.)

Aquino said he would be providing the House dangerous drugs committee copies of the swab test on the two containers from the MICT. 

Does the BOC share Aquino’s view? No, it doesn’t.

In the previous hearing, BOC officials already doubted the existence of shabu, based on the swab test that was negative for illegal drugs.

But the BOC’s X-ray scanners could not track contraband wrapped in lead, plastic, and foil. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

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.