Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Arroyo orders Subic ‘shabu’ haul burned

President Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to coordinate with the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority on the destruction of shabu smuggled into the Subic Bay Freeport in May.

The order to PDEA director general Dionisio Santiago was “pursuant to the instruction” of Ms Arroyo, Secretary Cerge Remonde, chief of the Presidential Management Staff, said in a memorandum.

The more than 700 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) recovered at the free port should be “burned within the public and media view,” Remonde told Santiago.

Undersecretary Antonio Villar Jr., PASG chief, and SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza were furnished copies of the memorandum.

LPG tank explosion

Santiago was also instructed to “report on the implementation for monitoring purposes.”

The President’s instruction came a few days after six container vans in the custody of PDEA were destroyed by fire.

The vans contained sets of evidence seized from suspected shabu laboratories. The fire reportedly originated from the explosion of a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tank in one of the vans.

Villar said the Department of Justice prosecutor in Olongapo City has yet to issue an order for the destruction of the contraband seized in four separate instances on May 27, 28 and June 7.

These were found in the car of suspect Anthony “Anton” Ang, in a van at the warehouse that Ang’s company rented, and on Subic Bay.

In a related development, one of 15 people sued by the PASG and PDEA in connection with the shabu smuggling wrote the Inquirer to clarify that he is not an incorporator of Ang’s company, the Hua Long International Inc.

The first report of the National Bureau of Investigation identified him to be among the incorporators.

Political color

In his letter, Harry Yao, through his lawyers, said he is the vice president for operation of Anglo Asia Commodities Corp.

The PASG corrected the error in its June 5 summary report on the case.

Lawyer Edmund Arugay, NBI deputy director, said Yao was included in the complaint filed for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165).

Arugay said it was in Anglo Asia’s warehouse where a van containing the bulk of the contraband (612 kg) was found.

The case started to take on a political color after a legislator reacted to rumors her family was being dragged into the drug trade and, without categorically saying it, pointed to a senator as the one who should be investigated.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay Wednesday floated what she called “rumors” surrounding the confiscation of the drugs.

In a press conference, she said there had been talks that on the day of the seizure “a son of a senator was panicking (natataranta)” and purportedly burning the phone lines.

“There was also the rumor that (the prime suspect) was spirited out via a private plane,” she told reporters.

“I’m thinking of only one reason (for the senator’s involvement) and it’s because the elections are near,” she said. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon and Christian V. Esguerra in Manila

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