MANILA, Aug. 9 — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña on Wednesday said Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Neil Anthony Estrella did not follow procedures to coordinate with his agency upon receiving information on the PHP 6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment from China.
During the second Senate hearing on the illegal drugs shipment, Estrella admitted that he did not immediately coordinate with PDEA after he learned of the shipment because CIIS was still “validating the information.”
“We were notified about possible drug shipment but we were still validating the information so we did not immediately inform PDEA,” Estrella told Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
Estrella explained that on May 25, around 11 p.m., CIIS proceeded to the warehouse in Valenzuela City, Hong Fei Logistics, where the shipment — five insulator machines — were delivered to validate if it did contain illegal drugs.
Lapeña insisted that Estrella should have coordinated with PDEA and agreed with Gordon who described the CIIS Director as “incompetent.”
“All Customs officials violated entrapment protocols for illegal drugs in the warehouse raid,” Gordon said. “We are now a laughing stock over the Customs warehouse raid.”
Estrella said that he was informed of the illegal shipment by Richard Chen (also known as Richard Tan), owner of the warehouse where the shipment was delivered.
Chen allowed the CIIS to open the crates, however, Gordon said that they had no authority to do so.
The warehouse owner said he received the drug shipment on May 24, around 7:30 a.m. He was later told by Xiamen Customs that the five insulator machines contained illegal drugs and that the shipper in China had already been arrested by authorities.
Also during the hearing, Gordon threatened to cite Chen in contempt for his conflicting statements in his affidavit.
In Chen’s affidavit, he said he was informed of the illegal shipment by Xiamen Customs Police Officer Wang Xi Dong on May 25, between 5 to 6 p.m.
However, in the Senate hearing, Chen said he thought the shipment contained printing materials and only found out that they were drugs after speaking with the Xiamen Customs cop.
The hearing is ongoing.