Customs director resigns amid ₱6.4 billion shabu issue

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The Bureau of Customs said all it wants is to stop abuse of the system brought on by the smugglers.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 10) — Bureau of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service director Neil Estrella tendered his courtesy resignation amid the controversy involving the ₱6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.

Estrella said he submitted his resignation letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, with a copy furnished to Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

Faeldon has yet to respond to his resignation, Estrella said.

The Customs director disclosed his courtesy resignation during the House Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday midnight.

Estrella appeared earlier in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing where he admitted that he failed to observe protocol by informing the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) immediately about the raid on the warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 25 that yielded the large shabu shipment.

Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon accused Estrella of incompetence, and said his actions made the customs bureau a "laughingstock." The lack of protocol observed by Estrella may have rendered the shabu inadmissible as evidence, the Senate hearing found.

READ: ₱6B illegal drugs inadmissible as evidence because of 'contamination' - PDEA

Customs Import Assessment Services director Milo Maestrecampo also resigned Tuesday after a broker accused him of taking bribes to facilitate processing of  shipments.

READ: Broker tags Customs officials allegedly taking bribe

The 600-kilogram shabu shipment was seized by agents from the BOC and National Bureau of Investigation from a warehouse in Valenzuela City last May.

During a Senate hearing on the issue in July, Estrella said the shipment was declared as kitchenware by its importer, a company named EMT Trading.

The shabu was discovered in 605 bags stuffed into five cylinders.