Drug lab query continues

Committee on Dangerous Drugs points to more inconsistencies

VIRAC, Catanduanes 2/27/17 (Bicol Standard)—The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs is bent on conducting a deeper probe into the alleged seeming negligence by the police and local officials here that led to the escape of four Chinese nationals believed to be involved in the operation of the mega shabu laboratory in Barangay Palta Small here.

The congressional inquiry held last week (February 23) centered on the alleged failure on the part of the police to report at least 20 kilos of shabu with a street value of P100 million.

Also, the Committee pointed at the supposed delaying of the issuance of a search warrant which was necessary for a thorough police investigation.

‘No missing shabu’

Interviewed by the Bicol Standard, Police Chief Supt. Melvin Buenafe responded to the allegations that there was missing shabu, or that the police failed to make a report on the matter.

“There is no missing shabu. The committee was asking about it based on the report or presentation made whereby it was declared that it is with the crime lab that has custody. And all these are in our reports," he said.

"Kaipohan tulos makapag file para sa inquest proceedings katong arrested na suspects under custody, kaya ginamit nindang evidence muna su finished product na shabu at hand tanganing dai ma-jeopardize si pag sangat kaso, kaya dawa dai pa na-examine gabos, such as the met-base liquid na sinasabing pwedeng nag-aabot P100 million an value, ipina-file na muna si kaso ta may reglementary period na sinusunod," explained Buenafe.

Protection, deception?

During the hearing, Barbers expressed his suspicion that the Chinese nationals who were led by one Jason Gonzales Uy and three Chinese chemists were being accorded protection by authorities from Catanduanes.

The solon emphasized that the mega shabu lab was constructed without the appropriate barangay and town permits.

It was also unusual, Barbers said, that the local electric cooperative extended power connections even without the shabu lab operators first presenting clearance from the local Bureau of Fire Protection.

Likewise, it was strange that the shabu lab was constructed and even started operation without being noticed by the police and local officials, he noted.

Cong. Barbers and Teves were further irked by the seeming deception made by Judge Lelu Contreras about her prior presence at the shabu lab.

It was only when local media personalities presented a picture of her together with Mayor Samuel Laynes and Chief Supt. Buenafe indicating that they were in the shabu lab prior to her signing of the search warrant.

Her alibi was that she was just outside the building and did not enter the shabu lab, Barbers and Teves added.

Meanwhile, Provincial Prosecutor Mary Jane Zantua was also quizzed by the House Committee members.

This was after she ordered the police officers to prevent the members of the investigating committee to enter the lab to conduct their own ocular inspection on February 23.

Despite said order of Zantua, the lawmakers were able to enter after a delay of more than an hour.

Zantua reasoned out that her only intention was to preserve the evidence inside the lab, brushing aside insinuations that somebody called her up and ordered to stop the lawmakers from entering the premises.

Armed men

The Barbers group vowed to dig deeper into the report that at least eight heavily armed men wearing bonnets and hoods allegedly claimed to be members of the NBI harassed the shabu lab caretaker Lawrence Pinera on November 25, 2016, several hours before the police raid.

In addition, they would like to clarify the veracity of the information that the armed men could have escorted or paved the way for the escape of suspects Jason Uy and three Chinese chemists.

At present, only Lawrence Pinera, the caretaker of the warehouse, is in the custody of the government and charged with violations of Republic Act 9165.

Jason Gonzales Uy and Paolo Uy remain at large.
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