Airport and drug enforcement authorities on Sunday intercepted a cargo package that was stuffed with sachets of shabu at the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) and detained a woman who was intending to claim it as its consignee.
Held by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was a certain Rebecca Nicole Bunag, 34, reportedly a resident of Barangay Tiniguiban, who was at the airport to claim the package.
Eleven sachets of shabu, initially valued by authorities at around P70,000, were stuffed inside a tetra pack and mixed in the cargo along with other food items. An X-ray technician at the terminal flagged the package and alerted the airport police and PDEA authorities.
In an initial questioning by the PDEA, Bunag reportedly implicated a soldier she identified as Raymond Almonte as the owner of the package who allegedly merely asked her to pick it up.
Almonte is reportedly a member of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBDe) assigned in Palawan.
“Nakisuyo lang kasi sa akin ang kaibigan ko na kunin ang package na ito. Dahil andito ako sa Puerto, pinuntahan ko naman. Pumayag naman ako kasi sabi niya kukunin naman daw niya pagpunta niya rito,” Bunag said.
Meanwhile, Capt. Orchie Bobis of the 3MBDe issued a statement denying Bunag’s statement and clearing Almonte.
“Since 2018, wala nang kontak at koneksyon kay Rebecca Nicole Bunag ang tropa namin. ‘Yan ang resulta ng inisyal na imbestigasyon ng 3MBde. Dini-deny namin na may kinalaman si Sgt. Raymond Almonte sa pagkakasabat ng drugs sa airport,” Bobis said.
Bobis pointed out alleged inconsistencies in the initial account of Bunag pertaining to the whereabouts of Almonte.
“It is unfortunate na idinamay ang tropa namin sa pangyayari na ito. Based on our investigation, ‘yong claims ng babae (Nicole) sa PDEA ay hindi tugma doon sa sitwasyon niya ngayon. Ang sabi niya, wala dito ang tropa, pero nandito at pinababa na namin for further inquiry,” said Bobis.
Bobis also said they have already summoned Almonte for questioning.
“If ever PDEA needs to investigate him, we will make him available because we do not do drugs in our organization,” Bobis said.
“Nagsagawa na kami ng koordinasyon sa PDEA-Palawan kung ano pa ang tulong na puwede naming ibigay sa kanilang imbestigasyon,” she told Palawan News in a text message.