Suspended Customs official: Drugs could have been intercepted

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — A suspended Customs official claimed P6.4 billion worth of shabu could have been intercepted last May if his request to issue an alert order had been granted.

In a probe by the House committee on Ways and Means on Wednesday, Atty. Larribert Hilario, former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Risk Management Office, said he filed an alert order against the shipments of EMT Trading, which were declared as kitchenware.

"Kung binigyan lamang po ng kaukulang aksyon ang aking request, at nakapag-isyu ng alert order, dapat na-hold ang importations na 'yon, at nagkaroon ng physical inspection," Hilario said.

[Translation: If my request was just given an appriopriate response and an alert order was issued, the importations would have been put on hold and there would have been a physical inspection.]

Hilario had asked Import Assessment Services (IAS) Director Milo Maestrecampo to issue an alert order against the shipments of EMT Trading after noticing they had identical entries, including the tax valuation. The request however, was denied.

This prompted some lawmakers to raise concern on how smugglers could easily bring contraband into the country.

"Nakita niyo kung paano kayo nauutakan ng smuggler. Mas mautak sila sa inyo e, hindi po ba? Hindi alertable pero napapa-green lane nila (ang mga shipment)," House Majority Floor Leader Rudy Farinas said.

[Translation: You see how smugglers can easily outsmart you. They're more clever than you, aren't they? The shipment are not alertable, and they have placed it in the green lane.]

Hilario denies involvement

The former BOC official also denied his involvement in the shipment of the 604 kilos of shabu stored in five different metal containers.

Hilario added that customs broker Teejay Marcellana was the one who had inputted the questionable shipments last May 22. Marcellana, according to Hilario, has previous derogatory records in the BOC.

Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said this was the first time he heard Hilario's side.

Faeldon relieved Hilario from duty in May 29 following the raid in the Valenzuela City warehouse when the drug crates were found.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has issued an immigration lookout bulletin order against Hilario, the owner of the Valenzuela City warehouse Richard Tan, customs broker Mark Taguba and four other persons of interest.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.