DOJ scolds NBI for 'not studying well' shabu shipment complaint

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice did not take sitting down the move of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take out a Customs official from its complaint involving a multibillion-peso shabu shipment concealed in magnetic lifters last year.

During a hearing on Thursday, February 21, the NBI told the DOJ panel that after reviewing the case, it found that Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Collector for Operations Michael Vargas was not involved in the chain that missed magnetic lifters containing shabu at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in August 2018.

Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat claimed that the NBI “did not study well” its own complaint.

The NBI seeks to charge more than 40 people of importation of illegal drugs, and former customs chief Isidro Lapeña of graft.

The NBI had wanted to file a motion for clarification to remove Vargas, but Sytat rejected the bureau's mode of procedure.

“This motion we cannot accept because it's very prejudicial to other respondents. We don’t want to make as confusing as it was,” Systat said.

Instead, Systat ordered the NBI to submit a position paper on Vargas and after this, they will conduct a clarificatory hearing. 

"(The NBI) apologized. It's on record and I accept it. Let the will of justice takes its course. I trust that there is justice in the Philippines," said Vargas, who attended the hearing on Thursday.

Lapeña also personally submitted his counter-affidavit on Thursday.

The case involves two sets of magnetic lifters, one intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) which yielded P2.4 billion worth of shabu, and another for the 4 lifters found in Cavite which were found empty but supposedly contained P11 billion worth of shabu.

The NBI has concluded that the magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained shabu.

 Lapeña is being charged for his failure to file a case against the consignees of the lifters. –