Cartoon by Roni Santiago

The smuggling last May of a huge quantity of shabu valued at P6.4 billion is unthinkable as it happened against the backdrop of President Duterte’s relentless and brutal war on drugs. It is also unbelievable as the illegal drug shipment was released through the “green lane” of the Bureau of Customs (BoC).

This tells us that the people behind the smuggling were too bold to take for granted the seriousness of the war on drugs. So are their coddlers at BoC. To the smugglers, it is still “business as usual” at BoC, which is described as the most corrupt government agency.

President Duterte accepted the resignation of BoC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon a few days after a controversy loomed over the P6-billion shabu smuggling. Faeldon repeatedly denied involvement, but because he was the helm of the BoC, he was the target of relentless criticisms.

The controversy prompted the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and the House of Representatives to conduct investigations on the case. Faeldon was summoned but he refused to testify.

We are glad, though, that soon Faeldon will have his day in court. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) filed a criminal complaint last Sept. 16 with Department of Justice (DoJ) against Faeldon and 11 other officials in connection with the shabu shipment seized in two warehouses in Valenzuela City last May 26.

In a 23-page complaint, PDEA filed recently a case of conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protect or coddle drug traffickers under Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829 by “harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape” of the persons behind the shabu shipment.

The respondents are Faeldon, BOC directors Milo Maestrecampo and Neil Anthony Estrella; intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente; Manila International Container Port district collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla; Faeldon’s fiancée, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci; and BoC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.

PDEA alleged that the importation of the illegal drug shipment would have not been possible if not for the “incompetence and corruption of the Bureau of Customs officials.”

It also alleged that the gross inexcusable negligence, manifest partiality, or bad faith of Faeldon and the other officials made possible the importation of 602.279 kilograms of shabu and the evasion of Chen Ju Long from being arrested and prosecuted.

We look forward to the day when all those responsible for the shameless smuggling will be put behind bars. If this is done, it would engender public confidence that the war on drugs as well as corruption is being carried out in all earnestness. And it is pursued no matter who gets hurt.


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