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    Suspected shabu cache from China found in Manila

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    THE Manila Police District (MPD) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday discovered a cache of suspected shabu from China at an abandoned townhouse in Sampaloc, Manila.

    Barangay Chairman Nicanor Padios of Barangay 501, Zone 49 reported to the NBI that the shipment was found on May 25 in a townhouse near the corner of Maceda and Simoun Streets. It was previously rented by a Taiwanese tenant.

    On May 2016, authorities discovered P6.4 billion worth of shabu at two warehouses in Valenzuela City, based on a tip from the Chinese government.

    “When the townhouse owner went to the townhouse unit they found three crates which were similar to those found in Valenzuela City warehouses,” Padios told the NBI.

    NBI and MPD officials could not confirm if indeed the abandoned crates in the Manila townhouse contained shabu.

    They also declined to reveal the names of the Taiwanese and Chinese who occupied the townhouse
    Police and NBI agents cordoned the area while waiting for operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

    Another Customs exec resigns

    Also on Thursday, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Neil Anthony Estrella stepped down after being accused of getting bribes for the release of the shipment that contained shabu.

    “I need to rest and muster my strength to I can defend myself in court,” Estrella told The Manila Times.

    Estrella said he submitted his resignation to the Office of the President, through Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

    He, however, did not say whether it was a courtesy or irrevocable resignation.

    Estrella is the second high-ranking customs official to resign this week.

    On Tuesday, Internal Affairs Service (IAS) Director Milo Maestrecampo submitted his resignation after he was named by broker Mark Ruben Taguba during a congressional hearing as among the recipients of weekly grease money in exchange for easy release of shipments.

    Taguba is the son of well-known customs broker Ruben Taguba, a former security guard at Customs.

    Aside from Estrella and Maestrecampo, also implicated were: Intelligence Group Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval, Manila International Container Port (MICP) Collector Vincent Philip Marinilla, CIIS officer Teddy Sagaral, and MICP formal entry chief Maita Acebedo,

    Taguba also pointed to persons named Jason, Jojo, Gerry, Alex, Sandra, Alfred, and a Major Gutierrez who died in July.

    Half-truth

    Estrella said Taguba told a half-truth on Wednesday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the issue.

    During the Senate hearing, Taguba was asked why the list he submitted to the House did not match the one he gave to the Senate. In both lists, Taguba merely listed the Office of the CIIS Director and IAS.

    “We expect the truth now that it is becoming clear… the people who were involved in the importations that included shabu,” Estrella said.

    Estrella appealed to the public to keep an open mind and not prejudge the case.
    “Let the court decide who’s telling the truth,” he said.

    Estrella has admitted to administrative lapses during his mission to retrieve the shabu shipment from Valenzuela City following the tip from China’s customs office.

    He said he wanted to immediate recover the shabu shipment, but failed.

    with WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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