MANILA, Aug 2 (Mabuhay) — Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon admitted Wednesday said his men indeed mishandled a seized shipment of “shabu” as alleged by an anti-narcotics official, but said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency could have prevented it.
Faeldon said he “accepts” the pronouncements by PDEA-National Capital Region Director Wilkins Villanueva during Tuesday’s congressional hearing that there were “several procedural errors” of the Bureau of Customs in a May 26 raid of a warehouse that yielded crates that contained illegal drugs.
“That is exactly true. The evidences were contaminated by some people because they don’t have gloves—that is accurate. Some people [took] photos with those drugs—that is accurate,” Faeldon said in a press conference in the bureau’s Quezon City office.
However, Faeldon explained that PDEA operatives were informed of the raid at 9:00 a.m. but they arrived at the scene past 1:00 p.m.
“That’s more than 4 hours after we informed them. That’s even longer than the time we received the information from China and the time we already operated it,” he said.
“If he arrived earlier, those procedural errors that we have committed could have been corrected earlier,” he added.
Faeldon also explained why he wanted only 1 crate delivered as part of the “controlled delivery” to the intended recipients the PDEA wanted to do as part of a possible entrapment operation.
He said that under the Dangerous Drugs Act—which the PDEA follows—life imprisonment is the maximum punishment that can be meted to “anybody who helps facilitate the importation, transportation, of any drugs of whatever amount or purity.”
“So naturally, Mr. [Richard] Chen, the owner of that warehouse and the consignee is already a suspect so I want part of the drugs to stay there as an evidence against that owner of the warehouse because the controlled delivery we are conducting, hindi tayo sigurado kung mahuhuli pa natin si Anoche Dee,” he said, pertaining to the intended consignee.
“Pag hindi naming nahuli si Anoche Dee, ibabalik naming yung drugs doon. That’s a bigger legal problem, and then makakawala ngayon si Mr Chen,” he said.
Faeldon said he is standing by his decision, noting that a case is still filed against Chen because of the 500 kilograms of shabu found in his warehouse per the record.
“Today, lumalabas sa investigation that Chen is probably the real culprit here. Those are the reasons why I wanted it divided. Hindi dadalhin lahat,” he said.
“I stand by that decision and if the situation arises today, I will still do the same decision,” he added.
Villanueva, in the congressional investigation, recalled that Faeldon repeatedly consulted a younger, fair-skinned woman about the delivery. Faeldon later admitted that the woman was his fiancée, a lawyer who does not work in the government.
Villanueva said the Customs chief should have listened to him.
“Sir, kasi ang problema, pag anti-drug operation, makinig kayo sa PDEA. Ang problema nagmamagaling-magalingan tayo dito wala tayong alam. One crate is not possible for controlled delivery and cannot be used as evidence for controlled delivery operations,” he said.
During the press conference, Faeldon admitted that PDEA agents are the experts on handling drugs.
“The PDEA are the experts, let us recognize that. They are the experts, but this is just a disagreement on the concept and it’s just common sense to me…I understand the sentiment of Dir. Wilkins because he’s the expert there, and a non-expert has opposed his decision, but I stand by that decision,” he said.(MNS)