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Duterte doubts magnetic lifters contained P11

May 04, 2023

PDEA chief Aaron Aquino inspects one of four magnetic lifters that contained traces of "shabu" (crystal meth) already emptied by drug traders that smuggled about P6.8 billion of the illegal drug in a Cavite warehouse on Friday. Authorities found the massive steel devices with hollowed parts where the drugs were hidden inside a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez town in a follow-up operation after seizing 500 kilograms of shabu worth P4.3 billion (below) inside two lifters at the international container port in Manila two days earlier. (Photo by EDWIN BACASMAS / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed doubt about the claim of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that the recovered magnetic lifters in Cavite last August might have contained P11 billion worth of crystal meth, or "shabu."

PDEA agents "wrongly" assumed that the magnetic lifters were completely filled with shabu, the President said, in a lecture on illegal drugs with Cabinet officials in Malacañang. But he noted: "What was found are traces… That is why the price is increased."

"They are assuming na puno iyon. They pegged it there. Nakita nila traces, but they wrongly assumed na puno iyon kaya from P6 million [billion], they increased the [value]," the President said. "That can't stand in court.

PDEA initially pegged the value of shipment at P6.8 billion.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino claimed, however, that the agency decided to reweigh the lifters, which led to the conclusion that the shabu allegedly concealed in the lifters might have been worth P11 billion.

Duterte then said that it was wrong to just assume that the shabu allegedly hidden in the magnetic lifters could be worth P11 billion, stressing that it would only "fuel the suspicion of the public."

Duterte also initially dismissed as a mere speculation the PDEA's first calculation that the magnetic lifters might have contained P6.8 billion worth of shabu. /atm

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