Customs X-ray inspector insists magnetic lifters empty

Rambo Talabong
Customs X-ray inspector insists magnetic lifters empty
John Mar Morales contradicts the claims of his ex-boss Lourdes Mangaoang, who said the lifters contained 'things'

MANILA, Philippines – John Mar Morales, a longtime X-ray inspector of the Bureau of Customs, insisted on Wednesday, October 24, that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite were empty when they passed through the Manila International Container Port.

“Yes, your honor, kita ko na walang makitang dense talaga, na nagsasabing walang laman (I really didn’t see anything dense, so that showed there was nothing inside),” Morales told lawmakers of the House committee on dangerous drugs as well as committee on good government and public accountability.

Morales was the direct supervisor of Manuel Martinez, the X-ray inspector who cleared the magnetic lifters for entry into the country. (READ: Empty or shabu-packed? X-ray scans of magnetic lifters revealed)

X-RAY VETERAN. John Mar Morales at the House probe into the missing illegal drugs on October 24, 2018. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

Morales was referring to the X-ray images that were presented before the lawmakers during an earlier hearing. According to him, the fuzz seen in scans are “wirings” of the magnetic lifters as the hardware needs to be powered to activate.

This contradicts the claims of his ex-boss, former X-ray chief Lourdes Mangaoang, who said the lifters contained “things,” which are not necessarily illegal drugs.

During the probe, Mangaoang clarified she could not conclude that the contents are illegal drugs solely based on her analysis of scans.

She said she earlier linked the contents to illegal drugs because this has been the findings of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, as mentioned in testimonies before the parallel Senate probe into the controversy. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.