By Daniel Llanto i FilAm Star Correspondent

Former police officer, Eduardo Acierto, who claimed while in hiding that President Duterte’s Chinese economic adviser Michael Yang is linked to the illegal drug trade, is wanted by Malacañang so that a PHP10-million reward for his arrest has been offered.

Even Acierto’s coddlers and protectors, suspected of helping him elude capture despite a warrant issued by a Manila court for his alleged involvement in the importation of shabu concealed in magnetic lifters, are the objects of a manhunt by authorities.

A former police senior superintendent, Acierto was also deputy director for administration of the elite Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who last month appeared before select members of the media and revealed that Yang was involved in the illegal drug trade, along with another Chinese national close to Duterte, Allan Lim.

Before he went into hiding after he was linked to the multi-billion shabu shipment at Customs, Acierto said he filed a police report on the alleged illegal activities of Yang and Lim. But he claimed the PNP officials and Malacañang sat on the report, thus implying that Duterte tolerated these nefarious activities when they involve people close to him.

Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra said, “The bounty is from Malacañang, so I’m not privy to where it will be sourced. It’s not from the Justice Department because it’s certainly larger than what the DOJ could offer,” Guevarra told reporters.

Guevarra said the Justice Department is not focused on the reward money because his agency’s focus is on Acierto’s coddlers and protectors.

“(His coddlers will be) wherever Acierto may be found hiding and brought to inquest immediately,” he stressed.

He reiterated that Acierto’s coddlers are criminally liable under Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Law (importation of illegal drugs), and thus, may face imprisonment of up to 20 years and fine of up to PHP 500,000.

A hold departure order was also issued against Acierto to make sure he cannot leave the country.

The backlash saw former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena dismissed from his post but was later designated director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, a Cabinet post.

A Manila court also issued warrants of arrest for former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Deputy Director Ismael Fajardo, importers Chan Yee Wah and Zhou Quan, consignees Vedasto Baraquel Jr. and Maria Catipan of Vecaba Trading and Emily Luquian over the multibillion-peso shipment of shabu.

Former Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban, also accused in the case, has been detained at the National Bureau of Investigation after the DOJ terminated his contract with the Witness Protection Program.

The DOJ is also looking into the possible leak of the resolution indicting Acierto and seven others that may have foiled an earlier National Bureau of Investigation manhunt for Acierto.

The PNP has also already launched a manhunt for Acierto and the others.