Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva, Bureau of Customs (BoC) Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and several other officials are facing criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DoJ) over the 2019 shipment of “tapioca starch” found containing suspected shabu worth billions of pesos.
DoJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Wednesday confirmed that the National Bureau of Investigation-Task Force Anti-Illegal Drugs (NBI-TFAID) filed the complaints on Tuesday following the conduct of an investigation.
“The complaint has something to do with a shipment of tapioca where 171 kilos of shabu hidden inside the aluminum pallets were accidentally discovered,” the secretary told reporters.
However, Guevarra admitted he has no other available details about the complaint that was filed.
In its complaint, the NBI recommended that Guerrero, BoC Deputy Commissioner Raniel Ramiro, former PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino be charged with violating Section 4(c) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees.
The case was exposed by Senator Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson back in 2019. An abandoned shipment of tapioca starch at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) was auctioned in March 2019 and was bought by the winning bidder Goldwin Commercial.
However, the bidder reported to the BoC that the shipment from Cambodia contained methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, hidden inside aluminum pallets.
Lacson even questioned the PDEA and BoC for having hands in allowing alleged Chinese drug lord Jack Co to leave the country even after the seizure of the shipment
The NBI also recommended the filing of charges for violating Section 3(e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against the three along with Villanueva and 17 other government officials and personnel, namely Joel Plaza, Aldrin Albarino, Jigger Montallana, Melvin Estoque, Mark Malibiran, Judith Rigo, Dorcas Repolles, Noilan Avila, Mark Espiritu, Marc Anthony Marero, Cesar Carlo Bilowan, Alejandro Noble, Kathryn Joy Dionio, Koden Dario, Ivy Joy Nitura, Vincent Puti and Rory Dela Torre.
The bureau also said that they all should be administratively charged for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
It added said Aquino, Guerrero, and Ramiro should also get additional administrative charges of serious dishonesty.