By Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

A FORMER adviser to ex-president Rodrigo R. Duterte would be called to a congressional investigation on the delivery of P3.6 billion worth of smuggled illegal drugs in Mexico, Pampanga last year.

The House Dangerous Drugs Committee said on Sunday its investigation would summon an economic advisor of Mr. Duterte who was previously implicated in the illegal drug trade as well as the overpriced supply deals between Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. and the government during the pandemic.

“This matter has now gone from a simple illegal drug smuggling to a national security concern,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers said in a statement.  “We need to establish the link between these companies and… the financier of Pharmally (Pharmaceuticals Corp.)”

Last September, anti-narcotics operatives backed by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Customs, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency busted the smuggling and delivery of 530 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, valued at P3.6 billion, through Subic Bay Port to a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga.

In an earlier House panel hearing, a director at Pharmally was tagged as among the incorporators of the company that owned the warehouse. This pharmaceutical executive was the one who had named Mr. Duterte’s former economic adviser as the alleged financier for the medical supply company.

“It is not as simple as it seems,” said Mr. Barbers, who is the panel chairman. “These personalities and their interests are so intertwined and intricately woven in an elaborate multi-layered company structure that resembles a maze deliberately designed to avoid detection.”

The House investigation on the drug bust also revealed that Chinese nationals involved in the case used fake Philippine documentation to skirt the law, allowing them to purchase properties in the country with the use of fictitious identities, Mr. Barbers added.

“Using fictitious documents and corporations, they went on buying sprees and allegedly bought hundreds and possibly thousands of hectares of agricultural and residential lands in Northern Luzon and started building warehouses,” he said.