24 May 2009

Independent panel starts investigation of Ang disappearance in Subic drug bust

Manila - The three-man independent panel that investigated the Alabang Boys has started its investigation into the questionable disappearance of suspected international drug-lord Anthony Anton Ang after he was caught in possession with some P5-billion worth of high-grade shabu at the Subic Freeport Zone.

The panel, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Carolina Grino-Aquino with San Beda Graduate College of Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino and retired Sandiganbayan Justice Raoul Victorino as members, would look into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the drug suspect and determine possible liabilities of prosecutors and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) and of the Subic Freeport authorities.

Solicitor General Agnes Deva-nadera, whose office is providing legal assistance to the probe panel, said the investigation would zero in on the administrative aspect of the case and as well as on the alleged bribery angle.

Bribery may come in, but the focus is whats going to be the accountability of the public officials, the solicitor general said.

She said the objective of the investigation is to establish some facts, and to inquire on the reaction of the officials when all things happened.

It could be lapses. It could overt act. It could be intentional acts. It could be none. It could be regular action, she added.

A congressional committee is also investigating the drug case. In its latest hearing, both the PDEA and PASG have virtually exonerated the Subic Freeport authorities, saying that Had the SBMA [Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority] personnel relaxed their guards in this case, billions worth of shabu would have flooded the streets.

Armand Arreza, SBMA administrator, gave the credit to SBMA personnel, saying their dedication to and honesty in their job paid off, adding, "Our boys did not waiver in the face of deceit even as they exercised determined caution in giving locators the respect they deserve."

Ang, then being a known locator in SBMA, claimed that the cargo contained sensitive computer parts and requested it should not be opened while he promised to bring to the SBMA the required shipping documents even when the boxes passed the dog sniffing screening to detect contraband.

Ang failed to return with the shipping documents on the promised time. The SBMA law enforcement team, then called PASG, the governments anti smuggling group to open the boxes. It was only then that they found out the boxes contained crystalline substance that was suspected to be shabu.

The PDEA later confirmed the substance-contained shabu. The packaging of the shabu in boxes was intended to deceive sniffing dogs. (William B. Depasupil, Manila Times)