Duterte: Entry of ₱6.8 billion worth of shabu is 'pure speculation'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) report that ₱6.8 billion worth of shabu had slipped into the country as "pure speculation."

In a speech on Tuesday, Duterte slammed PDEA's claim that a ton of shabu is possibly being sold into the streets now after the seizure of four empty magnetic lifters in a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite on August 8.

"But they opened it, there was none. It was pure speculation," Duterte said.

"And they also presumed that is was full of shabu. And they just made an assumption of the price. But there was really none and I am not convinced [that there was]," he added.

PDEA said traces of illegal drugs were detected in the containers with the help of its sniffer dogs. They estimated the amount of shabu the lifters had contained based on two similar magnetic lifters earlier found in the Manila International Container Port which had around 500 kilograms of shabu worth P4.3 billion.

Duterte, however, told PDEA officials to not speculate on drug hauls next time.

"You cannot speculate that you recovered containers. They are not containers but the magnetic [lifters]," he said.

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña shared the President's view. In a House hearing on the alleged drug shipment earlier that day, Lapeña revealed that the four magnetic lifters tested negative for drug residue, saying the PDEA report "has no basis."

He added the empty magnetic lifters could be a "test run."

"Para pag nakalusot, more will follow. And this time talagang loaded na siya (So when it slips past authorities, more will follow. And this time, the containers would really be loaded with drugs)," he told lawmakers.

Some solons, like Rep. Miro Quimbo, find it hard to believe that the lifters contained no drugs.

"You cannot tell us that there are no drugs simply without any basis…. We can see that there is a pattern. You are clearly disputing the express statement of another government agency," he told Lapeña.

Malacañang on Monday said the President still trusts Lapeña – a retired police general and former PDEA chief – despite Customs' alleged failure to prevent the entry of the massive shabu shipment. But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured that Duterte wants to get to the bottom of the issue.