Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Court orders Subic shabu destroyed

OLONGAPO CITY -- A JUDGE HERE ON THURSDAY ordered the destruction of more than 700 kilograms of smuggled shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) seized by government agents at the Subic Bay Freeport in May.

Judge Raymond Viray, of the regional trial court here, authorized the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to “proceed with the destruction or burning of the same (shabu) in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized or his/her representative or counsel.”

Viray on Friday inspected the seized shabu kept at the office of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group inside the freeport.

He said the destruction or burning of the illegal drugs must take place “within 24 hours after the ocular inspection.”

Deadline extension

PDEA director general, Dionisio Santiago, said his agency is set to file on Monday a motion asking Viray to extend the 24-hour deadline for the destruction proceedings.

Viray’s order, dated June 26, was officially issued on June 27, the day court personnel inspected the contraband, according to Alvaro Lazaro, chief of the PDEA legal and prosecution unit.

The contraband is locked in a container van that the Task Force Subic, the antismuggling arm of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, has secured in its headquarters at the freeport.

Santiago said it was “not possible” for the PDEA and several other agencies to meet the deadline because the seized items have to be re-weighed and the pieces of information on the weight have to be clarified.

The PDEA is still securing a special permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to burn the substance. The SBMA, on the other hand, is preparing the incinerator facility. The PDEA has put on standby an incineration plant in Cavite in case the SBMA’s facility is not yet ready.

At large

Personnel of the PASG, Task Force Subic and the SBMA’s law enforcement department seized the illegal drugs in several operations in May and June.

The main suspect in the foiled smuggling at the Subic freeport, businessman Anthony “Anton” Ang, has yet to be arrested.

In a June 5 summary report on the case, the PASG said the total haul of shabu weighed 744.36 kilograms. The high-grade shabu, valued at P4 billion, could be sold at thrice that price in the retail market, the PASG said.

Santiago said the information that PDEA needed to clarify to the court is the volume of representative samples actually submitted to the Olongapo City prosecutor during the filing of the case on May 30.

The prosecutor received at least 80 kg, a volume that Santiago found to be more than what was required by law.

“The representative sample should be around 16 grams per kilogram. At 80 kg, sobra yung nai-submit ng mga investigator (the investigators submitted more than what was required). Hahanapin sa amin yung equivalent ng 80 kg (They would hold us liable for the equivalent of the 80 kg). We have to be exact here,” Santiago said.

No breakthrough

As for the investigation on who or what syndicate was behind the smuggling of shabu at the freeport, Santiago said the PDEA has “not made any major breakthrough.”

The agency took over the investigation from the SBMA and PASG on June 3.

“Some leads have political undertones,” he said.

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