Davao councilor in smuggling controversy missing
DAVAO CITY—The councilor who had been linked to corruption at the Bureau of Customs through the so-called “Davao Group” has made himself scarce and apparently gone missing.
This forced Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, who presides over the city council, to call for the ouster of Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr., a close friend of Paolo, from all his committee positions.
During the council’s session on Tuesday, most members voted for the ouster of Abellera as chair of the committee on peace and public safety.
Abellera was also stripped of his position as vice chair of the committees on public works and barangay affairs and of his membership in the committees on finance, games and amusement, and tourism and beautification.
A Customs fixer, Mark Ruben Taguba, alleged that he gave Abellera P5 million in enrollment fee into the so-called Davao Group so Taguba could bring in goods without any hitches from the Customs bureau.
The goods that Taguba brought in included a P6.4-billion shipment of “shabu” (crystal meth) that went past the Customs bureau and was seized in a warehouse in Valenzuela.
The vice mayor, eldest son of President Duterte, has also been dragged into the controversy.
Paolo, in an interview with reporters, said the council had to act on Abellera’s absences as these had affected his duties in the city council.
“He is always not around and is not doing his work and I have heard he is always sick,” Paolo said.
Cannot be lcoated
He said the city council had tried to locate Abellera to inform him of the council’s sentiment that he better resign from his committees.
“We’ve been communicating with him, to no avail,” he said.
Abellera last attended the council session early this month, after he appeared at the Senate blue ribbon committee. He has since been absent from the city council.
In previous reports in the Inquirer, Abellera was tagged as one of the members of the Davao Group, which was tagged as behind the smuggling of goods through the Customs bureau.
Abellera, in an affidavit, denied involvement in the Davao Group and insisted such a group did not exist.
He also admitted his closeness with Paolo, though.
During his Senate testimony, Taguba pointed to a certain “Tita Nani” as the one who introduced him to the Davao Group. —JUDY QUIROS