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Alejano: Duterte ‘suspiciously’ silent on P6.4-B drug shipment from China

Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano on Wednesday deemed as "suspicious" President Rodrigo Duterte's supposed silence on the P6.4-billion drug shipment from China.

"Over two months since the P6.4 billion worth of shabu shipped from China was discovered by authorities and the President has [remained] indifferent [to] the issue," Alejano said in a statement.

"The same President who is infamous for his deadly war on drugs. The same President who has threatened and lambasted drug addicts, drug peddlers and nacro-politicians in every opportunity for him to speak. The same President who said that he would kill even his own child if found out to be involved in illegal drugs," he said.

"Duterte has been suspiciously silent on an issue involving illegal drugs of this scale. Ang Pangulo ay pumapatay ng mga small-time drug addicts sa lansangan habang itong mga tone-toneladang droga ay nakakalusot," Alejano added.

The controversy has spawned congressional hearings both at the Senate and the House of Representatives. A number of Customs officials and personnel, including Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon, have been under fire due to the drug shipment escaping their notice.

On August 1, Faeldon was summoned to Malacañang by Duterte hours after his resignation was sought by Surigao Sur Representative Robert Ace Barbers. Duterte has since vouched for Faeldon's integrity, saying he wanted to let due process take its course in the investigation.

"I believe in his integrity. As a matter of fact, he was in Davao four years ago when he was together with some military men, and they were urging me to run," he said during the 113th founding anniversary of the Bureau of Internal Revenue on August 2.

"The complaint then, as now is that corruption nga. So we will look into it. But I said I would be fair," he added.

But if it is proven that Faeldon is involved in corruption, Duterte said: "Wala na tayong magawa."

Drug shipment

On May 26, the Bureau of Customs raided a warehouse in Valenzuela City owned by Chinese businessman Richard Tan/Chen and found 604 kilograms of shabu in five metal cylinders.

The bureau said it acted on an intelligence report from China Customs.

Investigations by both the Senate and the House are ongoing to get to the bottom of the problem.

Meanwhile, Alejano, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration expressed bewilderment as to how the shipment cleared China's Customs.

"Why was the shipment not intercepted right away at the very source? As the administration boasts of the warming and closer relations between the Philippines and China, maybe the President could nudge his friends in China for their cooperation in this transnational problem on illegal drugs," Alejano opined.

Alejano also pointed out that the drug shipment issue "requires an evaluation of the Bureau of Customs as a whole" as he also questioned the competence of the government's border protection and regulation.

"How did billions worth of illegal drugs manage to enter the country? How did the shabu shipment manage to get a 'green lane' classification in spite of red flags on the weight limits of the shipment and the importer?" Alejano said.

"It is high time to address this and improve the system to strengthen border protection," he added. — RSJ/KVD, GMA News