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Philippine Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña has issued rules for proper handling of apprehended drugs to avoid a repeat of the multi-billion peso methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) shipment that slipped through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Memorandum 2017-11-004 aims to establish protocols for the handling of dangerous drugs (DD) and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) within the jurisdiction of the bureau.

The memo ordered all suspected DD and/or CPECs discovered by way of regular course of work at the BOC to be immediately reported to the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF) for proper coordination with PDEA.

“All shipments found to contain DD and/or CPECs within the jurisdiction of the BOC and intended for controlled delivery, the PDEA shall be the lead agency,” the memo said.

Lapeña, who used to head the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), further emphasized the role of PDEA as lead anti-drug law enforcement agency in drug apprehensions.

It may be recalled that former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other BOC employees faced Congressional investigations over alleged mishandling of the 605-kilo shabu from China.

“To avoid glitch(es) in drug operations, make way and let PDEA stand in front because when it comes to drugs, they know better,” Lapeña said.

The apprehending officer must follow the law stated in RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, he added.

PDEA is the agency responsible for filing criminal and civil cases related to drugs for violation of RA 9165 while BOC is responsible for filing criminal and civil cases arising from violation of RA 10863 or Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

“Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Let us follow the law and the proper protocol.  However, let me also urge our BOC operatives to be always on tight guard so that we can suppress all drug importations right at the port of entry,” Lapena said.

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