MANILA -- Prosecutors have given embattled former customs chief Isidro Lapeña 10 days to answer the complaint against him by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for his possible liability in the entry into the country of billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs stashed inside magnetic lifters.
On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel conducted a hearing into the case which was attended by Lapeña's counsel John Telan and was given until February 21 to file a counter affidavit to the NBI's complaint.
Assistant State Prosecutors Mary Jane Sytat, prosecution panel head, also required Telan to present his client when the hearing resumes on February 21.
Aside from Lapeña, former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Deputy Director for Administration Ismael Fajardo, former deputy customs commissioner for intelligence Ricardo Quinto and dismissed Senior Supt. Eduardo P. Acierto also failed to attend the hearing and file their counter-affidavits to the complaint consolidated with the one initiated by the PDEA.
In a letter requesting for a preliminary investigation last month, the NBI named more than three dozen individuals allegedly involved in the shipment of drugs through magnetic lifters.
Investigators said District Collector Vener Baquiran was also remiss with his duty to prevent smuggling when he did not declare the two magnetic lifters abandoned within the period prescribed by law.
The NBI recommended dereliction of duty, violation of graft laws and grave misconduct charges against Lapeña, among others.
Aside from Sytat, other members of the DOJ panel are Prosecutors Giono Paolo S. Santiago, Jervis A. Gaspar and prosecution lawyers Jayvee Laurence B. Bandong and Mary Grace S. Arboladura. (PNA)