Ombudsman to probe P6.4B ‘shabu’ shipment from China
Published: 8:47 a.m., Nov. 7, 2017 | Updated: 1:02 a.m., Nov. 8. 2017
The Office of the Ombudsman has decided to investigate the smuggling into the Philippines of 605 kilos of “shabu” (crystal meth) worth P6.4 billion from China in May, following inquiries into the scandal by both the Senate and the House of Representatives that have led to a leadership change at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the discovery of alleged influence-peddling at the agency by members of President Duterte’s family.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has formed a fact-finding panel to investigate the drug smuggling, which a confessed fixer linked to the so-called Davao Group that is allegedly connected to Mr. Duterte’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law, lawyer Manases
The Inquirer has obtained a copy of Morales’ Oct. 13 order setting up the panel. She gave it 90 days to submit a report or recommendation after receipt of the congressional inquiry
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by Morales’ public relations consultant Alma Tuason, the investigation was in line with “the President’s recent pronouncement for independent agencies to investigate the matter.”
The President said last week that he could not investigate his son and son-in-law because nobody would believe the results.
He suggested that independent agencies, such as the Commission on Human Rights and National Bureau of Investigation, look into the alleged involvement of his son and son-in-law in corruption in the BOC.
The Senate and House inquiries have unearthed the “tara,” a payola system at the BOC, which has led to the resignation of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
Mr. Duterte has replaced Faeldon with Isidro Lapeña, the former head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The Ombudsman statement said the point of investigation would be the allegation that the release of the shabu cargo by the BOC was “facilitated by public officials who were identified as members of the Davao Group by customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba II.”
Taguba, testifying at a hearing called by the Senate blue ribbon committee in August, said he paid off BOC officials to expedite the processing of his cargoes.
Taguba said his direct contacts in the Davao Group were a certain Tita Nani and one Jack. He also mentioned Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and nephew of Ombudsman Morales.
Taguba claimed that he met Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. in Davao in January and that the alderman asked for P5 million in protection money for the vice mayor.
Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio were called to the next hearing, where they denied Taguba’s allegations.
Taguba clarified that he had never personally met the two men. Outside the Senate hearings, he issued a statement clearing them of “any involvement in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country and in any [irregularities] in the Bureau of Customs.” /kga /pdi
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