THE Office of the Ombudsman is set to investigate the reported anomalous release of some PhP6.4 billion worth of methamphetamine hydro-chloride or shabu from the Bureau of Customs through its green lane.
This was learned Tuesday shortly after the office of the anti-graft investigators issued a statement stating that it is already created a panel that will conduct a fact-finding investigation.
“The release was allegedly facilitated by public officials who were identified by Customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba II. The order of the Ombudsman is in line with the President’s recent pronouncement for independent agencies to investigate the matter,” the Ombudsman said.
The OMB is the second government agency that said would investigate the shabu smuggling at the Port of Manila.
Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation, an investigative body under the justice department, filed a complaint of illegal importation of drugs and violations of Customs Law against Chinese businessman Kenneth Dong, who is detained at the Parañaque City Jail for alleged rape; and Bureau of Customs fixer Mark Taguba in connection with the reported shabu smuggling into the country last May via the BoC.
The contraband was later discovered and seized from two Valenzuela City warehouses by the BoC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service following a tip from Chinese anti-narcotics authorities.
However, the public has yet to know how the shabu shipment was able to get through the BoC’s stringent monitoring.
Furthermore, the smuggled drugs was seized without the presence of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) representatives, which goes against protocols. As such, the smuggled drugs could be considered inadmissible as evidence in court.
Based on news report, it was learned that the PDEA was called only when the BoC is abut to make a controlled delivery of the contraband to its consignee, Fidel Anoche Dee, who was asked to open one crate in the presence of barangay officials, PDEA, BoC, and the media.
The incident has been the subject of congressional hearings and has highlighted the alleged involvement of several BoC officials and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte in the smuggling based on Taguba’s statement.
Senators who participated in the congressional probe expressed suspicion of a “connivance” between the BoC and the Chinese personalities involved in the incident.
The scandal led to the resignation of BoC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other officials.
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