House to summon sacked cops, Customs broker over shabu shipments

Mara Cepeda
House committee on dangerous drugs chairperson Robert Ace Barbers says they will continue establishing evidence for what they believe to be 'collusion' between the PDEA, BOC, and PNP

SHABU PROBE. House committee on dangerous drugs chairperson Robert Ace Barbers is the guest at the Ugnayan sa Batasan forum on November 12, 2018. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A House panel is set to issue this week a subpoena against a sacked cop, a dismissed top official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and a Bureau of Customs (BOC) broker involved in the missing P11-billion and the intercepted P2.4-billion shabu shipments this year. 

House committee on dangerous drugs chairperson Robert Ace Barbers said on Monday, November 12, that they will be issuing subpoenas against the following:

“We will do that within the week…. These are all subpoenas to [3] personalities that failed to appear in our last hearing – Colonel Acierto, Colonel Fajardo, Katrina Grace Cuasay, the broker – and other vital witnesses as mentioned in the testimonies of Mr [Jimmy] Guban and others,” said Barbers in a mix of English and Filipino.

Acierto, Fajardo, and Cuasay all failed to attend the committee’s hearing last October 24. (READ: TIMELINE: The search for P11-B shabu ‘smuggled’ into PH

Guban, former Customs intelligence officer, previously testified that Acierto was responsible for the missing P11-billion and the intercepted P2.4-billion shabu shipments. Guban said Acierto had tapped him to help in both shipments. 

Fajardo is longtime friends with Guban and Acierto. The former cop turned PDEA official admitted to attending meetings with Guban and Acierto on the magnetic lifters that allegedly contained illegal drugs, but it remains unclear how he helped in facilitating their importation.

Cuasay, meanwhile, is the BOC broker for the magnetic lifters.

For Barbers, it is clear that billions of pesos worth of shabu slipped into the country because of “collusion” between the PDEA, BOC, and Philippine National Police.

The Surigao del Norte 2nd District congressman said his committee is still working on establishing each agency’s involvement in the shabu shipments.

“One, ‘yung papaano nakalusot, ano ‘yung sistemang nagamit? Obviously may mga manipulasyon sa papeles, may mga manipulasyon sa x-ray. May mga kuntsabahan sa loob ng bureau kung kaya’t nakalusot ito,” said Barbers.

(One, how were the drugs smuggled, what system did they use? Obviously, they manipulated documents, x-ray findings. There is collusion inside the bureau, that’s why the drugs slipped past authorities.) 

Guban had been detained for 7 weeks at the Senate, which also conducted its own probe into the shabu shipments. After testifying before lawmakers, Guban applied for the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program and was turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.  

Barbers, however, said his panel is still determined to act on their contempt order against Guban and detain him until he answers lawmakers’ questions at the House of Representatives. – Rappler.com

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.