Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ang snubs PDEA ‘feelers’ to surface

Efforts to lure Anthony “Anton” Ang, a suspect in the smuggling of more than P4 billion worth of shabu at the Subic Bay Freeport in May, to seek protection from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have failed, a top PDEA official said.

“It’s a failure. Di komokontak si Anton (Anton has not made any contact),” PDEA director general Dionisio Santiago said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Ang has been missing in the last 24 days. Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority guards last saw him on May 26 when he made a second attempt to claim eight boxes containing shabu found in his car.

The SBMA held these because he could not show documents for the cargo that he said contained “sensitive computer parts.” The boxes later yielded packs of shabu.

Feelers through relative

Santiago said he sent feelers through a friend who turned out to be a relative of Ang.

“I sought out this friend and I asked him to tell Anton that he’s safest with us because we have no political agenda whatsoever. We just want him to come out and tell the truth,” he said.

From the first week of June until Thursday, Ang had sent no word to his relative.

“The phone that he uses whenever he contacts his family has been disabled,” Santiago said.

The PDEA chief considers Ang “key” to the investigation.


Ang’s behavior on the night of May 25 – going to the restricted area of the freeport’s ship repair facility, parking his car across the vessel that carried the contraband and trying to take the cargo out of the freeport – indicated he was acting as the “middleman,” Santiago said.

“We want to know if this was the first time he did it or if he’s been doing this for a long time,” he said. He added that they “have no other interests in (Ang)” aside from ensuring his safety and finding out the truth.

Santiago believed that PDEA was Ang’s best refuge now that the case has taken on a “political color.” He did not elaborate on that.

Some businessmen reached by the Inquirer believed that Ang might have been killed by now to silence him.

No breakthroughs

The investigation, began by the PDEA on June 3, has not made a major breakthrough so far.

“It’s ongoing. It’s not so simple and we’re using a mixture of approaches,” Santiago said.

As to the June 18 order by President Macapagal-Arroyo to destroy the haul, he said he has formed a technical working group to oversee the burning and an inter-agency committee to monitor the entire process from transport to destruction.

“We will have to follow the rule of law prescribed in Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002),” he said.

Santiago and a Department of Justice prosecutor in Manila were meeting on Thursday to clarify the process of obtaining the evidence.

The filing of a case by PDEA and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group against Ang and 14 others on May 30 placed the evidence in the custody of the DOJ in Olongapo City.

Shabu repository

The contraband is kept in a container van at the office of Task Force Subic, SBMA’s anti-smuggling arm, which is also headed by PASG chief Antonio Villar Jr.

In Zambales, SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza dismissed reports linking a member of the Magsaysay family to Ang. Tonette Orejas with reports from Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

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