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DoJ extends deadline for Lapeña’s counter-affidavit

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By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday allowed former Bureau of Customs (BoC) chief and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director-General Isidro S. Lapeña to submit on Feb. 21 his counter-affidavit to the complaint against him in connection with the shabu kept in magnetic lifters that slipped past the BoC during his watch in 2018.

Mr. Lapeña was supposed to submit his counter-affidavit to the complaint filed on Jan. 24 by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). But he was not able to attend the preliminary investigation on Feb. 11 due to “official duties,” according to his lawyer John Telan.

The NBI charged Mr. Lapeña with two counts each of graft, dereliction of duty, and grave misconduct in connection with the P2.4-billion shabu shipments kept in two magnetic lifters found at the Manila International Container Port in August 2018 and the P11-billion worth of the same illegal drugs placed in four magnetic lifters found in Cavite.

More than 50 others were also charged by the NBI. They have not yet filed their counter-affidavits and were also given until Feb. 21.

Mr. Lapeña resigned as BoC commissioner in August last year following the controversy over the importation of illegal drugs. He was appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to TESDA on Oct. 25.

The DoJ on Jan. 30 consolidated the two complaints of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) filed in August and December 2018 and the NBI complaint. Only the NBI tagged Mr. Lapeña in the complaint.

The DoJ granted the motion for consolidation of the NBI “to avoid duplicity and/or possible conflicting resolutions over the same subject/incidents, i.e. the shipment/importation of six (6) magnetic lifter from Malaysia and Vietnam to Manila, and in the interest of justice.”