PDEA Chief asserts dogs sniffed out drugs in Cavite warehouse

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Four magnetic lifters found in a warehouse in Cavite last month have been emptied of ₱6.8 billion worth of drugs, the PDEA said.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is not backing down on its claims that four magnetic lifters found in a warehouse in Cavite last month have been emptied of ₱6.8 billion worth of drugs.

Despite claims from the Bureau of Customs and even President Rodrigo Duterte himself that that shipment did not contain drugs, PDEA Chief Gen. Aaron Aquino said they have sufficient evidence to back their claims.

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

READ: Customs chief disputes entry of ₱6.8-billion shabu shipment

According to the PDEA Chief, the bill of lading of the two magnetic lifters containing P4.3 billion worth of shabu or methampethamine hydrochloride that were earlier intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) showed they too were bound for General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite, where the four other empty magnetic lifters were found.

"It states there that that particular two magnetic lifters will be shipped to GMA Cavite, where we found the four magnetic lifters," Aquino said in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing led by its chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, on Wednesday. 

He also stood by his ground that their K9 sniffer dogs have detected traces of drugs in the four empty lifters.

Aquino said the PDEA's forensic chemists, as well as that of the Philippine National Police, swabbed the two magnetic lifters in MICP on August 28. Both lifters tested negative for drug traces, despite authorities hauling ₱4.3 billion worth of methampetamine hydrochloride.

READ: BOC, PDEA seize P4.3 B shabu shipment in Manila port

"People can lie, but dogs don't lie," he claimed.

However, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said laboratory tests are more concrete evidence.

"That's the one used in court," he said.

He added despite the situation being similar to the ₱6.4-billion worth of shabu slipping the Bureau of Customs in May 2017, authorities have followed proper procedure in assessing the contents of the lifters.

"It went through the clearance processes your Honor, and it was tagged red," he said. "This one went through a process of X-ray, and since the image appeared to be that of what was declared, it was cleared for release."

The ₱6.4-billion shabu shipment that entered the Philippines last year led to the resignation of former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

Consignee violations

During the hearing, Gordon also grilled the consignee of the shipment, Marina Signapan of SMYD Trading, for not being able to detect the entry of the shipment.

Signapan said she received the shipment from a certain Joel Maritanan, who called her and said that he will bring "scrap lifters." In turn, Maritanan paid her P180,000.

"Nagalit po ako sa kanya kasi hindi ko po alam na ginamit niya 'yung kumpanya namin (bilang consignee)," she said.

[Translation: I got angry because I did not know that they used our company.]

Signapan added the items have already been shipped from Vietnam. Her Customs broker, Katrina Cuasay, affirmed that the documents handed to them on the shipment have been assessed for duties and taxes.

However, Signapan did not raise a complaint to BOC and acknowledged the shipment. Maritanan paid her ₱180,000 in dues and taxes, she added.