by Mario Casayuran and Hannah Torregoza
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will try to dig deeper into the entry of 605 kilos of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) valued at P6.4 billion into the country last May, with the Senate leadership to formally ask China for more information on the arrest of several Chinese linked to shabu smuggling from Xiamen, China.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, committee chairman, said he would ask Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to send the letter to China, probably through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in accordance with agreements between the Philippines and China.
A Chinese official had earlier assured the Philippine government that his government would try to help in preventing the export of shabu to the Philippines where President Duterte has been carrying on an anti-drugs campaign since assuming office last July, 2016.
Gordon said he and his fellow senators are not satisfied with the reaction of President Duterte – which he described as a “whimper” – to reports that he was allowing Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to continue holding on to his post.
This contrasts with his “hue and cry” against many found involved in corruption and in illegal drug shipments, he said.
As his committee resumes tomorrow its public hearing on the huge shabu smuggling incident, Gordon said he is ready to recommend to the President a full revamp at the BOC involving not only people but also procedures. “There ought to be a school for Customs personnel to learn honesty and be strict in their work,” he said.”
“I will be strongly disappointed (with the President) if he gives Faeldon a free pass like all others,” Gordon said, in reference to the President’s “kid gloves” treatment of Police Supt. Marvin Marcos who was involved in the killing of Albuera, Leyte, Rolando Espinosa, father of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, in his Leyte jail cell last year.
Gordon, however, said the President deserves the benefit of the doubt as he might have information that he and other senators are not privy to.”
The focus of the public hearing on Tuesday is still on the alleged corruption and incompetence at the BOC, he said.
Gordon said the committee will seek to determine why and who among the Customs personnel allowed the shipment to be given preferential treatment by assigning it to the “green lane” instead of the “red lane.”
Under a standing Customs circular, all shipments from China are supposed to undergo strict inspection in the “red lane.”
What assurance can customs bureau leadership give that future shipments will be inspected thoroughly by honest and dedicated personnel so that illegal or dangerous drugs do not flow into the country, he added.