PNP launches manhunt for Acierto
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has formed tracker teams to hunt down former PNP official Eduardo Acierto and other persons who were ordered arrested by a Manila court on charges of smuggling billions worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu last year.
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said the tracker teams from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) immediately went to work after they received a copy of the arrest warrant from the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 35 on Wednesday.
“We have tracker teams created from the CIDG not only for him but all the others who were issued with a warrant of arrest,” Albayalde told reporters yesterday at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
The police teams are scouring Acierto’s possible hideouts in various parts of the country.
Aside from Acierto, the court also ordered the arrest of former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency deputy director for administration Ismael Fajardo, importers Chan Yee Wah and Zhou Quan, consignees Vedasto Baraquel Jr. and Maria Catipan of Vecaba Trading and Emily Luquingan.
Another subject of the arrest warrant, former Bureau of Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban, is in police custody. The BOC said Guban’s resignation took effect on Sept. 12, 2018.
The records of the administrative case against Guban was reportedly among those destroyed when a fire struck the BOC in February and the agency is still reconstituting the documents, according to BOC spokesman Erastus Austria.
While they believe Acierto is still in the country, Albayalde said they will still check with the Bureau of Immigration.
The PNP will also move for the cancellation of Acierto’s licenses to own and possess firearms.
The case stemmed from the seizure in August last year of two abandoned magnetic lifters at the Port of Manila that contained 355 kilos of shabu worth P2.4 billion and four empty magnetic lifters at a warehouse in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite which authorities believe held 1.6 tons of shabu with an estimated street value of P11 billion.
Foiled NBI ops
Meanwhile, an operation set by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last week to arrest Acierto and seven others was foiled by a premature release to the media of the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution indicting them in court.
The STAR learned that NBI agents were supposed to launch a manhunt during the Holy Week break to implement the arrest warrant, but the indictment was reported by online media outfits – with Rappler breaking the story – last April 17, a day before the scheduled operation.
NBI officials revealed that DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued a strict directive to keep the resolution confidential so as not to jeopardize the hunt for Acierto and other accused and to prevent them from preempting the actions of law enforcers.
“But because it came out in the media, the operation for the arrest of Acierto was foiled. Nasunog tayo dun (We got burned),” revealed an NBI source who requested anonymity due to confidentiality of the matter.
A fuming Guevarra ordered an internal investigation to determine who was responsible for the leakage of the resolution to the media despite his order.
Acierto recently surfaced in a press conference with select media outfits and linked President Duterte’s former adviser Michael Yang in the illegal drug trade in the country. – With Evelyn Macairan