Former Customs chief seeks more time to answer complaint on P11-B shabu scandal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 11) — Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña asked for more time to answer the complaint filed against him by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in connection with the multi-billion peso shabu shipments that slipped the country last year.

Lapeña did not attend the preliminary investigation Monday, but his lawyer argued they only got a copy of the complaint last week.

The panel of prosecutors gave Lapeña until February 21st to file his counter-affidavit.

Lapeña is facing dereliction of duty, grave misconduct and violation of the Anti-graft and Corruption Practices Act.

The NBI is accusing Lapeña of not filing any case against those behind the shipments of the magnetic lifters containing worth P11 billion of shabu found in Manila and Cavite.

On February 6, House panels on Dangerous Drugs and Good Government and Public Accountability did not recommend the filing of charges, despite saying that "existing corrupt practices under Commissioner Lapeña's watch have made our ports vulnerable to smuggling illegal drugs."

"To get into the bottom of this issue, a deeper probe should be taken up by the appropriate Committee in the House," the 19-page report said.

This is similar to the recommendations made by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in December, which also cleared Lapeña but said, "This is not to say that those involved cannot go any higher."

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) filed the first two complaints still in connection with the drug shipments, but did not include Lapeña as respondent.

PDEA found no evidence directly linking him to the case.

The NBI's complaint also tagged more than 40 respondents for conspiracy to import illegal drugs, graft and grave misconduct.