Biazon on shabu smuggling: ‘Is PDEA clean?’

Sofia Tomacruz
Biazon on shabu smuggling: ‘Is PDEA clean?’
Lawmakers raise the possibility that more Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency officials may be implicated in drug smuggling

MANILA, Philippines – Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon on Wednesday, November 28, cast doubt on the integrity of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), in the wake of the firing of PDEA Deputy Director General for Administration Ismael Fajardo.

Fajardo was dismissed from his post last September 13 for his suspected involvement in the alleged smuggling of P11 billion worth of shabu or methamphetamine into the country.

Weeks before that, though, Fajardo attended hearings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. (READ: TIMELINE: The search for P11-B shabu ‘smuggled’ into PH)

“That’s what makes it chilling, because he was even testifying here in Congress. Napaniwala niya na tapat siya (He made us believe he was honest) and it makes it chilling, because we don’t know who among the ranks [are involved]…. I don’t think he would be operating alone within that organization,” Biazon said.

Biazon recalled that he asked during previous hearings how the PDEA knew about the exact details of the shipments of magnetic lifters, which were later on siezed at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) as they were suspected to contain shabu.

“My question was, ‘Who gave information and are they very reliable?’ And it was answered [it was] very reliable and in the past they’ve been using info even from that asset. Is my understanding now correct that the asset was [dismissed cop] Superintendent [Eduardo] Acierto?” he added.

Former Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban had pointed to Acierto as responsible for the missing P11-billion shabu shipment and the intercepted P2.4-billion shabu shipment this year. Guban claimed it was Acierto who instructed him to facilitate the drug shipments. (READ: Guban ‘tells all’: Ex-cop behind billion-peso shabu shipments)

FIRED. Ismael Fajardo is sacked from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency amid the search for billions of pesos worth of shabu allegedly smuggled into the Philippines. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

Internal cleansing: Responding to this, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino gave assurances that the ranks of the agency are being cleansed.

Aquino also agreed with the possibility that Acierto and Fajardo were cooperating and engaging in illegal activities.

In an effort to back this up, Aquino told lawmakers he chanced upon an old message Fajardo sent to him back in March that said a shipment of drugs from Malaysia had supposedly been found.

“When I was scrolling [through] my cellphone, I was able to read a text message form Director Fajardo that was dated March 21, 2018. Sabi niya dumating na ‘yung droga galing Malaysia na nakatago sa machines na ang laman ay shabu (He said shabu placed in machines arrived from Malaysia),” Aquino said.

“All of this sir, there is no actual informant. Sila-sila ang gumagawa nito (They made it all up).”

Because of this, the PDEA chief surmised that it was possible another shipment of illegal drugs found its way into the country, aside from those seized from lifters at the MICP and those supposedly from the lifters in Cavite.

Aquino then said the agency is in the process of checking whether or not there are other “higher drug personalities” aside from Fajardo and Acierto.

“There are some intelligence reports na parang meron (that say there might be). We just have to validate it,” he added. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.