PDEA files drug raps vs Faeldon, 11 BOC execs
Resigned Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and 11 officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) were charged with a string of drug offenses before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday for the P6.4-billion shabu (crystal meth) shipment seized last May.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) accused Faeldon and his officers of conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting drug traffickers, in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, or Republic Act 9165.
The agency also accused the BOC officials of obstruction of justice for allegedly “harboring, concealing or facilitating the escape” of those behind the shabu shipment, negligence and tolerance, and corruption.
The agency said the “incompetence and corruption of the Bureau of Customs officials” allowed the shabu shipment into the country and the importer Chen Ju Long, alias Richard Tan, to escape arrest and prosecution.
The 11 other BOC officials charged by PDEA were directors Milo Maestrecampo and Neil Anthony Estrella, intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente, Manila International Container Port district collector Vincent Phillip Maronilla, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci, and employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.
“The gross inexcusable negligence, manifest partiality or bad faith” of Faeldon and his co-accused “made possible the importation of 602.279 kilograms of shabu and the evasion of Chen Ju Long from being arrested and prosecuted,” PDEA said in its complaint.
The agency also filed illegal drug importation charges against Chen and nine other persons who had been previously charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). They were Chen Rong Juan, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong, Mark Taguba II, Teejay Marcellana, Eirene May Tatad, Emily Dee, Chen I-Min and Jhu Ming Jyun.
But PDEA also charged six other individuals namely, Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual and Mary Rose Dela Cruz, who were reportedly the directors and officers of Hong Fei Logistics Inc., which owned the warehouse where the shabu was seized.
This developed as Taguba, through his lawyer Raymund Fortun, urged the DOJ to dismiss the criminal charges against him and the others implicated in the smuggling case, claiming the illegal drugs were “tainted evidence.”
Taguba and four other respondents did not show up on Monday at the start of the DOJ’s preliminary investigation into the case.
Fortun said his clients would formally ask the DOJ next week to dismiss the case because the seized shabu could not be used as evidence.
The drug shipment arrived at the Manila port on May 17 and was released by the BOC on May 23.
“Senator (Richard) Gordon himself said, how can there be a case when the evidence is tainted since it was a botched operation. The drugs are no longer admissible evidence,” Fortun said.
“From a legal perspective, there is no complaint because there can be no probable cause (to file a case) if there is no evidence,” he added.
Fortun said his clients Taguba and Marcellana would attend the next hearing on Sept. 25 to submit their reply to the NBI.
The lawyer questioned why the NBI did not include the alleged shabu exporter from China, Tong Yeng Ping, in the charges. “If there is any person who should be charged, it should be the person who sent the drugs here,” he said.