MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday, October 27, said government officials who were remiss in their duty and allowed up to P11 billion worth of shabu (methamphetamine) to enter the country should be punished, and not merely transferred to a different office.
“Ngayong malinaw na nakalusot ang ganito kalaking shipment ng shabu sa BOC [Bureau of Customs], kailangang sundan na ito agad ng malalim at seryosong imbestigasyon ng lahat ng may kinalamang opisyal,” Robredo said in a statement on Saturday.
She added, “Hindi sapat na ilipat lamang sa ibang opisina ang mga nagkulang sa kanilang tungkulin, dapat managot ayon sa takda ng batas matapos ang imbestigasyon.”
(Now that it’s clear that this big of a shipment slipped past the BOC [Bureau of Customs], it needs to be be immediately followed by a serious investigation of all the officials involved. It’s not enough that we just transfer those who failed in their duty to a different office, they need to answer to the law after the investigation.)
Her statement came days after the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) revised its figures for the missing shabu from 4 magnetic lifters found in Cavite in August, saying the illegal drugs are now estimated to weigh 1.618 tons worth P11 billion, and not the earlier reported one ton worth P6.8 billion.
On the same day of PDEA’s announcement, President Rodrigo Duterte announced his decision to “promote” Customs chief Isidro Lapeña to Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general.
On Saturday, Robredo said the government’s “war on drugs” should focus on illegal drugs that are being smuggled into the Philippines. If illegal drugs continue to enter the country, she said, no matter how fierce the “drug war” is, the country’s drug problem would never be solved.
“Simple lang naman dapat ang ating susunding polisiya: Kung walang drug supply, walang drug addict,” Robredo added.
(The policy we should follow is simple: If there is no drug supply, there will be no drug addicts.)
In a separate statement on Saturday, opposition Senator Leila de Lima accused Duterte of “disinterest” in going after big-time drug smugglers.
“No official investigation as to who are responsible for this latest billion-peso shabu smuggling is ordered by Duterte. No Customs official is investigated or fired,” said De Lima, who is currently in jail for alleged drug charges.
The senator noted that Lapeña “continues to avoid responsibility for his agency’s incompetence in stopping the smuggling of shabu.” (READ: Gordon tells Customs chief: Fire your officials, they’re ‘incompetent’)
She also lamented that the President is the first to clear anyone of responsibility and frustrate any serious investigation into drug lords, smugglers, and Customs officials.
Earlier this week, Duterte ordered the arrest of resigned BOC intelligence officer Jimmy Guban for allegedly facilitating the entry of the shabu shipments he was supposed to block.
Guban is under the custody of the Senate blue ribbon committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon. Gordon earlier recommended that Guban be turned into a state witness. (READ: P11-B shabu slip: Who is Customs intel officer Jimmy Guban?) – Rappler.com