Lapeña files counter-affidavit, asks DOJ panel to junk shabu smuggling raps

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FILE PHOTO. Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Tuesday said the recent attacks against the Bureau of Customs are part of a propaganda to oust him.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21) — Former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Thursday finally showed up at the  Department of Justice (DOJ) to answer the complaints against him in connection to the multibillion-peso shabu shipments that slipped into the country last year.

Lapeña, currently the director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, submitted his counter-affidavit in response to the graft and administrative charges filed against him by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in January.

He asked the DOJ panel of prosecutors to junk the complaints against him, but refused to give a copy of his counter-affidavit to the media.

"I have submitted my counter affidavit and it is for the consideration of the Department of Justice panel and it will go through a process and at this point in time I cannot make a comment on the process that it will undergo," he said.

The NBI tagged Lapeña as one of the respondents for failure to prosecute those behind the magnetic lifters. It accused Lapeña of dereliction of duty, grave misconduct, and corrupt practices for causing "undue injury" to the government by his inaction.

The complaint stems from the discovery of two massive drug shipments concealed in magnetic lifters - one believed to be worth ₱11 billion and the other, ₱2.4 billion - which slipped into the country last year under Lapeña's watch as Customs chief.

The panel reprimanded the lawyer of the NBI after he moved to withdraw the name of one of the respondents.

A prosecutor denied the motion, saying it shows NBI "did not study the complaint very well." The panel will conduct an ocular inspection of the site where the six magnetic lifters were found.

Dozens of personalities allegedly involved in the smuggling, including a number of companies and their officers, were also charged in relation to the shabu ssmuggling.

In December last year, PDEA also filed drug charges against over 40 people, but found no evidence linking Lapeña to the shabu smuggling.