Lapeña faces graft complaints over shabu shipment mess

Lian Buan
Lapeña faces graft complaints over shabu shipment mess

(1st UPDATE) This is the first time that complaints are filed against Isidro Lapeña for the billions of pesos worth of shabu which slipped past the Bureau of Customs. By April 2019, some complaints are dismissed and others endorsed to the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation.

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed on Thursday, January 24, complaints for dereliction of duty, grave misconduct, and graft against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) chief Isidro Lapeña over the multibillion-peso shabu shipment mess.

By filing the complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the NBI is concluding that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained shabu.

Lapeña is facing two complaints – one for the two magnetic lifters at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) which yielded P2.4 billion worth of shabu, and another for the 4 lifters found in Cavite which supposedly contained P11 billion worth of shabu.

The former BOC chief is being charged for his failure to file a case against the consignees of the lifters.

“Despite the lapse of time, Commissioner Lapeña did not file any case against the shippers or consignees of the magnetic lifters, which should have been done upon discovery of the goods by misclassification, since it is very obvious that the declaration made by the shipper is not the same as what were intercepted,” states the NBI’s letter-complaint approved by Director Dante Gierran.

Lapeña currently heads the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as director general.

Cavite lifters contained shabu

Because the lifters in Cavite were found empty, the BOC previously said it cannot be concluded that they contained shabu.

In legal standards, the corpus delicti or the body of the crime, usually a crucial requirement for a drug case, was lacking.

But the NBI said evidence established a link between the MICP and Cavite lifters.

“While it is true that in drug-related cases, the illegal drugs is the corpus delicti, we believe that such requirement has been satisfied in this case,” said the NBI.

The complaint argues further: “The abandoned magnetic lifters at MICP filled with prohibited drugs and those in GMA (General Mariano Alvarez), Cavite, have the same square openings, color, and structure. The square opening is not a design or enhancement, much less, an ornament of the machines and its presence was made intentionally to mark and identify the spot where the illegal drugs were concealed.”

The NBI added that “distinct similarities and peculiar coincidences” are proof that one syndicate is behind both sets of lifters.

COMPLAINTS. The National Bureau of Investigation transmits to the Department of Justice on January 24, 2019, its complaints stemming from shabu shipped through magnetic lifters. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

Other complaints

This is the first time that Lapeña has been slapped with complaints related to the lifters. But this is the 3rd set that the DOJ has received, with the first two filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Former BOC intelligence officer Jimmy Guban faces two complaints for violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 9165 or importation of illegal drugs. He has admitted to his involvement and cover-up of the shipments and has been taken into the Witness Protection Program.

Aside from Guban, around 40 others face complaints for importation of drugs. There are two sets of drug importation cases: one for the lifters at the MICP, and one for the Cavite lifters.

For the MICP magnetic lifters case: 

  • Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr – Owner of Vecaba Trading, the importer of the abandoned magnetic lifters found to contain shabu
  • Maria Catipan – Wife of Baraquel and co-owner of Vecaba Trading
  • Fhonie Chan aka Chan Yee Wah aka KC Chan
  • Emily Luquingan
  • Willin Ong aka Wilson Ong
  • Virgina Baliente
  • Zhauq Quan aka Zhang Quan
  • Jiang Qouquing
  • Mr Tan
  • Pssupt Eduardo Acierto
  • PDEA DDGA Ismael Fajardo
  • Intel Officer Jimmy Guban
  • Deputy Commissioner Ricardo Quinto

For the magnetic lifters found in Cavite: 

  • Hsu Chung Chun
  • James Fung/Fong
  • Kan Ji Hong
  • Le Thi Thuy
  • Luu Thi Thu Huong
  • Du Quoc Duong
  • Miguela Santos
  • Katrina Grace Cuasay
  • Marina Signapan
  • Joseph Dimayuga
  • Roy Wang
  • Zhou Quan
  • 6 John Does
  • Engineer Girlie Umali
  • Jenaline Garcia
  • Manuel Martinez
  • Attorney Zsae Carrie de Guzman
  • John Mar Morales
  • Benjamin Cajucom
  • Attorney Vener Baquiran
  • Red Day Machinery Parts Corporation board of directors
  • Romeo Nabal
  • Joel Maritana
  • Mary Lou Estrada, Humphrey Tumaneng, Jose Maria Sarasola, Johnny Reyes, and Fernando Martin Juan de Achaval, board of directors of All Systems Logistics (ASL)
The DOJ scheduled for January 30 the filing of the counter-affidavits for the accused. In a resolution dated April 8, 2019, the DOJ dismissed the complaint against ASL and its board of directors, including board chairman Estrada and corporate secretary Tumaneng, “for lack of probable cause.” Endorsed to the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation were complaints against Fajardo, Acierto, Guban, Necessario, Domingo, De Guzman, Cajucom, Martinez, Dimayuga, Morales, Lapeña, and Baquiran. The resolution was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor and now acting Prosecutor General Richard Fadullon.–

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.