WITH Bureau of Customs commissioner, Isidro Lapeña, “conceding” (finally) on Wednesday that the four abandoned ‘magnetic scrap lifters’ found inside a warehouse rented by still-to-be-identified ‘Chinese-looking men’ contained illegal drugs, the bureau’s ‘Tiger Lady,’ Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang, has been fully “vindicated.”
.In one of my previous columns, I already “predicted” about this result simply because she was, all along, telling the “truth” based on her own effort to uncover it and bolstered by her immense knowledge and experience as BoC official for the last three decades.
On the other hand, those customs officials who managed to “convinced” Comm. Sid at the very start of this controversy that the lifters were ‘No Suspect’ (did not contain anything suspicious), did so simply to protect their back and their lucrative racket of getting a regular “tara” from each container van arriving at the piers, whether subject to X-Ray inspection or not.
I mean, if you are collecting from a low of P200 to a high of P1,000 per container for each container van, why would you not scamper to convince Comm. Sid -- and malign Coll. Mangaoang in the process -- that the SMYD containers that delivered the lifters to GMA, Cavite was “clear” of any suspicious cargo?
And of course, their claim got added credibility when the ‘swab test’ done by no less than the PDEA on the abandoned lifters proved “negative.”
And you do the math, dear readers, even if we take the “low” figure of P200 “tara” per container multiplied by 2,000 containers (this is also on the low side) arriving daily at the POM and the MICP, we arrived at the mouth-watering figure of P400,000 “tara” EACH DAY.
But to be fair to Comm. Sid, he has been CONSISTENT in saying, FROM THE VERY START, that his claim that the 4 magnetic lifters did not contain shabu was because of the fact that, one, no shabu, not even its traces’, were found at the Cavite warehouse and that two, this fact was also bolstered by the swab test done by the PDEA.
To be fair also to Comm. Sid, he has also consistently posited that he would “abide” by the result of the ongoing investigation being done by both houses of Congress on this issue.
And on Wednesday, he averred that the expert testimony of the DPWH as regards the magnetic lifters finally “convinced” him that, yes Juan, they were used to ship illegal drugs into the country.
Translation? “Ginawa siyang gago” ng mga nakapaligid sa kanya.
Stated differently, since the start of the congressional hearings last month and until last Wednesday, it has become a “test of will” between him and the PDEA and Coll. Mangaoang, with the latter claiming all along that, yes Juan, Comm. Sid was wrong for there was shabu -- lots of it -- contained in those magnetic lifters and which are now flooding the local market.
Now, over this “concession” of Comm. Sid, should he now resign from his post? Was what happened glaring proof of his “incompetence” and gross mismanagement?
On the contrary, dear readers, what Comm. Sid should do is not to resign but, to become angry, really angry. In fact, all of us should be very angry.
For what can a commissioner do, indeed, what can Batman even do, if all along, powerful and influential individuals whom he believed are together with him and Pres. Duterte in combating illegal drugs were the ones conspiring to bring them into the country?
And as a “bonus,” to see him booted out of the BOC with his name and reputation in tatters. Sa inyo “gawin” ang ganyan, dear readers, hindi rin ba kayo magagalit?
I am of course referring to the so-called Acierto-Fajardo-Guban Drug Syndicate who had planned this “scenario” that would gain them further fame and glory (plus the reward money) as “heroes” in our war on drugs, while all along ensuring that their regular shipments of illegal drugs can now come in right under everybody’s noses, especially if there “corollary goal” of removing Comm. Sid also happened.
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Aside from being “mad,” for making a fool of all of us, a “study” of their operations and connections should also be a wake-up call to our authorities that “something” is quite rotten on how government agencies approach the myriad of problems related to the war on illegal drugs.
Come to think of it, dear readers, despite being on ‘floating status’ (before he was axed from the PNP late in August), Col. Jojo Acierto continues to be allowed to meddle in the PNP’s anti-drug operations.
Until his name cropped up in this controversy, I doubt if Col. Acierto has been the subject of an in-depth counter-intelligence operation by the PNP that should have been done a long time ago, if only to find out if he has been “coopted” by the drug syndicates that he has sworn to unmask and destroy, as what seemed to have happened in his case.
There too, is PDEA deputy director Ismael Fajardo whose lifestyle and “unexplained wealth” has been the subject of whispers in the corridors of PDEA for some time already.
I also doubt if, on assuming office last year, DG Aaron Aquino took the effort to validate these negative “whispers” about his trusted deputy. Heck, even up to now, despite all the sordid revelations, I was told that the PDEA has not even detained or restricted Fajardo. What gives, DG Aquino?
On the contrary, DG Aquino appears to have taken, ‘hook, line and sinker,’ so to speak, the “whispers” to him of Fajardo and Acierto that “may nakalusot na shabu,” referring of course to the (already) abandoned lifters in GMA, Cavite.
For even as he was holding a press conference with Comm. Sid at the MICP last August 6 on the discovery of the 355 kilos of shabu brought in by ‘Vecaba Trading,’ DG Aquino went on the record, expressing his “suspicion” that illegal drugs have gotten away from Customs.
Unnoticed at the time and the records would also show, DG Aquino was with Acierto and Fajardo at the MICP, prompting Comm. Sid to ask, “What is Acierto doing at the MICP, in the company of DG Aquino?
And what about Jimmy Guban? Aside from his already notorious reputation at the waterfront, he has proven to be the “weakest link” in their ‘Triumvirate’ by “singing” out all the details that he knows -- enough to damn his more senior partners.
If he suddenly turns up dead, I doubt if tears would be shed over his grave. Not from the millions of families and lives he helped to destroy. His sudden “departure,” would, indeed, be a cause for celebration by drug syndicates. Abangan!