By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday cited in contempt former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official Ismael G. Fajardo, sacked police officer Eduardo Acierto, and two others allegedly linked to the shipment last August of P11 billion worth of illegal drugs into the country for their continuous absences in the committee’s investigation.
Aside from Messrs. Fajardo and Acierto, committee chair Senator Richard J. Gordon cited in contempt a certain Emily Loquigan and SMYD Trading owner Marina Dela Cruz Signapan.
Mr. Gordon issued the contempt orders during the continuation of the Senate investigation on the illegal shabu shipments that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
“I have already invited certain people here who are crucial to the investigation and they have not been showing up….We are now going to issue contempt orders so that we can get these people back here,” Mr. Gordon said.
Former Customs officer Jimmy S. Guban has alleged that Messrs. Acierto and Fajardo were behind the entry of the shabu shipments into the country.
SMYD Trading has been identified by the PDEA as the consignee of the four magnetic lifters, which contained shabu worth P11 billion, found in Cavite.
Ms. Loquingan is the former wife of a Chinese national spotted at the Cavite warehouse where the magnetic lifters were found.
Also during the hearing, Mr. Gordon castigated the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for failing to respond to the requests of the PDEA and the Senate Blue Ribbon committee for information on the bank accounts of personalities linked to the illegal shabu shipment.
“My gosh, you guys are very cavalier. This is one of the biggest drug busts in the country and you’re not moving,” he said.
In response, Roland Villacruz from the AMLC Secretariat’s investigation and enforcement department said the agency needed to establish probable cause before recommending that the AMLC Secretariat look into the bank accounts.
He said they are about to submit to the council for its approval to look into the bank accounts.
“We will expedite, your honor, the request for approval… It’s the council that should grant the authority for the secretariat to examine these accounts,” Mr. Villacruz said.
Mr. Gordon then told Mr. Villacruz to convey to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr., who is also chairman of the AMLC, that he intends to file a complaint to the Senate President regarding the “disregard” of the agency to the letters of PDEA and the Senate committee.
“I think you may tell the Central Bank Governor that we intend to amend the law and that I will make a complaint to the Senate President that AMLA has rejected letters from the PDEA which is the rightful entity that should write this letter. You’re delaying it,” he said.
“We will not take kindly to this disregard of a legitimate request to act because this is a matter of national security and national peace and order,” he added.