Whistleblower Mangaoang returns as Customs X-ray chief

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) — Lourdes Mangaoang, the so-called whistleblower in the P11-billion shabu (methamphetamine) controversy last year is back as the X-ray chief of the Bureau of Customs.

According to a assignment order Rappler obtained, Mangaoang was designated as the "Acting Head" of the Bureau of Customs X-ray Inspection Project.

She previously held the post before she was assigned to be a Deputy Collector at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The XIP is the BOC office in charge of monitoring and training Customs X-ray personnel across the country.

Mangaoang made it to the public spotlight after going against her colleagues in the P11-billion shabu controversy. In that case, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency suspected that around 1 ton of shabu escaped Customs checks through magnetic lifters delivered in 2018.

The BOC initially denied the allegation and said the containers were hollow. Mangaoang, however, contested the claim.

Based on her own X-ray analysis, she said the lifters contained "things". She later concluded they were drugs based on the findings of the PDEA.

In a text message to Rappler, Mangaoang said she planned to "professionalize" all X-ray inspectors.

Mangaoang added that she wanted to "abolish" the bata-bata system or the culture of patronage in the Bureau, which has been one of the most controversial due to back-to-back allegations of smuggling. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.