By Rey Panaligan
The Manila City regional trial court (RTC) has ordered the arrest of former police officer Eduardo Acierto and seven others who were indicted in connection with last year’s shipment of shabu worth over P13.4 billion contained in magnetic lifters.
Also ordered arrested were former Customs Intelligence Officer Jimmy Guban and former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo; importers Chan Yee Wah alias “KC Chan” and Zhou Quan alias “Zhang Quan,” consignees Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr. and Maria Lagrimas Catipan of Vecaba Trading, and Emily Luquingan.
The arrest order was issued last week by RTC Judge Ma. Bernardita Santos who had set no bail for the accused in cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
All of the accused were charged with importation of dangerous drugs under Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The DOJ has tasked the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to arrest Acierto and the other accused.
Only Guban, who testified during a congressional investigation into the shabu shipped through magnetic lifters, is under custody by the NBI since April 17.
Published reports stated that Acierto surfaced in a press conference with select media outfits. He had linked President Duterte’s former adviser Michael Yan in the illegal drugs trade.
Earlier, the DOJ panel of prosecutors had endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for preliminary investigation on complaints of dereliction of duty and grave misconduct against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro Lapena, Fajardo, Acierto, Guban, dismissed Port of Manila District Collector Vener Baquiran, BOC X-ray Inspection Project head Zsae Carrie De Guzman, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) officer Gorgonio Necessario, Customs Operating Office IV Dolores Domingo, BOC shift supervision Benjamin Cajucom, BOC X-ray operator and analyst Manuel Martinez, customs employees Joseph Dimayuga and John Mar Morales.
The panel also recommended to the OMB the preliminary investigation of Lapeña, Baquiran, de Guzman, Morales and Cajucom for violation of Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code for their alleged failure to impose sanctions or penalize BOC officers involved in the controversy.