SBMA clarifies issue on Subic drug bust | SubicNewsLink

23 March 2009

SBMA clarifies issue on Subic drug bust

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) clarified on Friday that the agency initially treated the case of drug trafficker Anthony Ang as “simple smuggling” because there was no indication at that point that the boxes he brought into the free port contained drugs.

“This is precisely the reason why we called on the assistance of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) and not the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA),” said SBMA senior deputy administrator for operations Ferdinand Hernandez.

“We had no idea that the boxes Ang carried when he was apprehended by SBMA law enforcers contained shabu,” Hernandez stressed, adding that the boxes even yielded a negative reaction from drug-sniffing dogs.

Hernandez issued this clarification after some quarters wondered out loud why the SBMA did not bring PDEA early on in the case, as President Arroyo ordered a manhunt for Ang, who was reported to have slipped out of the country.

“Ang insisted that the boxes contained sensitive computer parts. And because Ang was a registered investor in Subic, he was given due courtesy even when we detained his cargo while he promised to produce the necessary documents,” the SBMA official said.

Hernandez said the PDEA was only informed of the case when SBMA and PASG operatives opened the boxes later in the presence of representatives from Hualong International Inc., Ang’s registered company in the Freeport, and found out that the eight boxes actually contained drugs.

At that time, however, Ang, who had promised to return with documents, had gone missing, along with his family. His employees at Hualong denied any knowledge of the contents of Ang’s cargo or of the whereabouts of Ang and his family.

It might be recalled that Ang was first apprehended by SBMA policemen in the evening of May 25, 2008, as he tried to bring out of Subic’s SRF area eight boxes from the Vietnamese-registered boat FB Shun Fa Xing.

Under questioning, Ang refused to open the boxes and pleaded with SBMA officials to release what he described were “sensitive computer parts.”

Hernandez said Subic authorities, however, gave two conditions for the release of the boxes: that Ang produce the necessary documents, and that a 100 percent inspection of the cargo is made.

Hernandez also said that it was through the persistent efforts of the SBMA police, SWAT team and Harbor Patrol group that three more caches of drugs apparently secreted by Ang in various areas of the Freeport were discovered immediately after the initial May 25, 2008 incident.

He said that after shabu was found inside Ang’s boxes on May 27, SBMA law enforcers recovered on May 28 two bags of shabu floating on the water at the SRF area, and 60 more bags inside a van hidden near the Hualong warehouse.

On June 7, 2008, operatives of the SBMA Harbor Patrol Branch discovered three boxes containing shabu that were anchored underwater near the area where FB Shun Fa Xing docked earlier.

In all, Subic operatives recovered a total of 744 kilos of high-grade methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, Hernandez said. (SBMA Corporate Communications)