Profiles of courage: Mangaoang and Aaron Aquino

It takes courage not to toe the President’s line.

That’s why it’s awe-inspiring listening to Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang, former Customs X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) chief, in insisting her expert opinion about the magnetic lifters that were alleged to have been used to smuggle illegal drugs last July estimated to be worth P6.8 billion.

Same with Director General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine drug enforcement agency who has not wavered in the findings of the agency that themagnetic lifters that passed through the Bureau of Customs contained shabu which is now flooding thestreets of the country destroying more lives.

Lawyer Lourdes V. Mangaoang of the Bureau of Customs. Screengrab from an interview with DZBB.

This is despite the denial of the Bureau of Customs whose officials insist that the magnetic filters were empty, which is supported by Pres. Duterte who readily dismissed initial reports of the huge amount of shabu that passed through customs last July as mere “speculation.”

“There was nothing there. They presumed it was filled with shabu and made assumption on the prices,” Duterte made his conclusion said at the launch of Pilipinas Angat Lahat Alliance at Malacañang Oct. 14.

In TV interviews last week, Mangaoang, who is now assigned as Customs collector for passengers services at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, said, “"Dogs don't lie, x-ray machines do not lie, only people can lie. I am very sure it was deliberate, dahil iyan ang modus operandi, para hindi makita ng examiner na may laman yung container na hindi naka-deklara, pinapadilim nila, sinasadya nila idilim yung image."

In its latest release, PDEA said “Samples from the intercepted shipment of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, in Manila International Container Port and pieces of drug evidence seized from recent anti-drug operations are linked together.

“ Based on the chromatographic impurity profiles and cluster analysis between samples from the intercepted shipment in MICP and bulk shabu seizures from recent entrapment operations conducted by PDEA in Sitio Tenorio, Barangay Awang DOS, Maguindanao on July 19, 2018; along Congressional Avenue, Barangay Toro, Quezon City on August 1, 2018; along Ronquillo Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila on August 26, 2018, and in Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa on October 1, 2018, show that they are of high similarity, indicating strong correlation among them.

“The analysis was done by PDEA Laboratory, the premier drug forensic center in the Philippines. The facility is the first and only forensic laboratory in the country that specializes in impurity drug profiling and conforms to strict international standards.”

PDEA restated the timeline of the controversial shipment: “On August 7, 2018, combined operatives of PDEA, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Customs intercepted 154 pieces of foil-wrapped sealed plastic packs containing 355.8506 kilos of shabu concealed inside two magnetic lifters at MICP, North Harbor, and Manila.

“Two days after, four more magnetic lifters were discovered abandoned by PDEA in a warehouse in Lot 1-18, CRS Subdivision, Barangay F. Reyes in GMA (Governor Mariano Alvarez) Cavite, but upon inspection, the metal containers were found empty.Despite yielding negative results from swab testing, PDEA’s drug-sniffing dogs have responded positively in detecting traces of the illegal drug inside the lifters. “

PDEA said they learned that “the lifters were delivered inside the warehouse on July 14, 2018. A Filipino forklift operator unloaded them the following morning and saw seven Chinese nationals opening the metal containers using grinders. Two vehicles were also seen entering and leaving the warehouse. “

PDEA's Aaron Aquino. From his FB page.

Four persons of interest, including two Chinese nationals in connection with the intercepted shipment in MICP, are now facing charges before the Office of the State Prosecutor, Manila,

Aquino said: “To this day, PDEA maintains that the four magnetic lifters found in GMA, Cavite contained shabu and stands by its K9 capability. PDEA is also convinced that the magnetic lifters found in MICP and Cavite bore close resemblance and are connected to one another.”

He added that based on the bill of lading, the intercepted shabu shipment in MICP is destined to be delivered in the same warehouse in Cavite where the other lifters were found.

Aquino said that the shabu contained inside the magnetic lifters in Cavite have already found their way to the streets as evidenced by the correlation patterns established by the impurity profiling analysis.

The huge bulk of fresh supply of shabu has pushed the prices down to P1,400 per gram from P6,800 per gram in July, 2018, he said..

The findings of Mangaoang and PDEA render hollow declarations of Duterte about his hatred for drugs. In his speeches last week he said there are no more shabulaboratories in the countrybecause “they know I will really kill them.”

“Itong shabu, wala ng laboratories dito kasi alam nila papatayin ko talaga sila. T****i** papatayin ko talaga sila,” he repeated..

He knows that the syndicate are “now into importation, “

He even gave the details: “We are suspecting the intelligence community that it is the 14K Triad who is handling drugs now in Asia. At ito namang Mexico, not the Medellin lahat 'yan sila, bantay kayo diyan sa mga cargo kayong mga exporters because 'yang mga cargo na 'yan kung saansaan pagdating ng pantalan o inbound for ito, banana dito. Kung saan-saan, 'yan ang ginagamit ng cartel. Diyan nilalagay nila 'yung parang roofing na plastic. It's not all steel. It's covered by a plastic thing. Eh isang beses bumagsak, nandoon 67 bricks of cocaine. “

Duterte vowed to kill the manufacturers of shabu. He said nothing about the importers.


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