DOJ indicts ex-cop Acierto over magnetic lifters shabu case

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted controversial former cop Eduardo Acierto for alleged drug importation over the two magnetic lifters intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in 2018 which yielded P2.4 billion worth of shabu.

In a 45-page resolution issued on April 8, seen by media only on Wednesday, April 17, the panel of DOJ prosecutors found probable cause to charge Acierto, dismissed Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) deputy chief  Ismael Fajardo, and resigned customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban for violation of Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Act. 

Acierto recently came out to accuse President Rodrigo Duterte’s former economic adviser Michael Yang of having links to the drug trade. Malacañang has strongly denied Acierto’s accusations, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) has cleared Yang despite Acierto’s supposed intelligence information.

Acierto is a veteran anti-drug cop, with years of experience in the PNP’s anti-drug operating units until he was dismissed in 2018 over the allegedly anomalous sale of AK-47 rifles to communist rebels.

Guban and Acierto

Guban told a Senate investigation that Acierto supposedly masterminded the smuggling of shabu, saying that the latter trained him to facilitate the shipment of the magnetic lifters later believed to be packed with shabu – including renting a warehouse, and using a fall guy as supposed mastermind.

The DOJ panel led by Mary Jane Sytat also indicted Chan Yee Wah, Zhou Quan/Zhang Quan, consignees Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr and his wife Maria Lagrimas Catipan of Vecaba Trading, and Emily Luquingan, the ex-wife of Hsu Chun Chung.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed the drug complaints against 40 individuals, both over the MICP magnetic lifters, and another for the 4 lifters found in Cavite which supposedly contained P11 billion worth of shabu.

But the DOJ only indicted the 8 for drug importation.

Shabu was never found in the Cavite lifters, but the PDEA, as well as the NBI, insisted that the lifters contained supposedly P11 billion worth of shabu.

“The basic rule is that allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof. Charges based on mere suspicion and speculation likewise cannot be given credence. When the complainant relies on mere conjectures and suppositions, and fails to substantiate his allegations, the complaint must be dismissed for lack of merit,” the resolution read.

Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) chief and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Isidro Lapeña is facing a complaint of graft over both the Cavite and MICP lifters, but the DOJ endorsed these complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman.

All other complaints of graft, which were filed against Fajardo and Guban, were transmitted to the Ombudsman. – Rappler.com