Senate asks DOJ to explain dismissal of drug cases vs Faeldon, others
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre should explain to the Senate why his department has dismissed the drug charges against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) chief Nicanor Faeldon and other officials, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel said on Thursday.
“Puro nakasuhan yata private citizens lang. Pano nangyari yun eh 600 kilos po yun (ng shabu)? Mahirap yata paniwalaan na walang cooperation from inside,” Pimentel said in an ambush interview.
(Only those charged were private citizens. How did that happen since the case involves 600 kilos? It is hard to believe that this happened without the cooperation from inside.)
“Bibigyan namin ang Department of Justice (DOJ) na magpaliwanag sila, formally or informally, pwede in writing. Tatanungin ko si Secretary Aguirre,” he added.
(We will give the Department of Justice the chance to explain, formally or informally, it can also be in writing. I will ask Secretary Aguirre.)
The Senate blue ribbon committee, headed by Senator Richard Gordon, was the one who recommended the filing of charges against Faeldon and other BOC officials after the P6.4 billion smuggled shabu slipped past the agency’s watch.
But on Wednesday, the DOJ cleared Faeldon and other BOC officials named in drug charges. Instead of the Customs officials, the DOJ sued broker Mark Taguba II and other witnesses at the Senate hearing.
This decision did not sit well with several senators who actively participated in the investigation into the 605 kilograms of smuggled shabu from China.
“Kung walang sinama na Customs doon, I mean medyo malabo. How could such a big shipment, 600 plus kilos of shabu and in an organized way malusot sa Customs na walang involvement ang Customs?” Pimentel said in a separate interview.
(If no one from Customs included there, I mean that is somewhat hazy. How could such a big shipment, 600 plus kilos of shabu and in an organized way slipped past Customs without the involvement of [people from] Customs?)
“So there must be somebody there from the inside who facilitated the release of the shipment,” he added.
However, Faeldon’s camp maintained his innocence as they see the decision as a proof that he did nothing wrong as Customs chief.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who accused Faeldon of receiving P100 million “welcoming gift” upon assuming his post, said the dismissal was not yet final.
“Ang pagka-dismiss, hindi final yan. Because there’s an automatic review by the SOJ (Secretary of Justice). Ang doon, yan sa mga prosecutors assigned to conduct the PI (preliminary investigations). So it will now be elevated to the SOJ for his automatic review. Let’s wait muna for the final disposition bago tayo mag-speculate,” he said in an ambush interview.
Meanwhile, Pimentel added the Senate would collectively decide on whether Faeldon should remain in the Senate detention facility despite the upcoming holidays, after they finished their deliberations on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill.
“Ako na rin mismo nag-iisip na malapit na ang Pasko at meron pa kaming naka-detain. So paguusapan po,” he said, as he reminded Faeldon that he could only be set free if he “cleansed” himself from the contempt he committed when he refused to appear before the Senate hearings.
“So what is the solution? Yes, you agree to appear. Pag wala, the contempt is still there,” he said. /jpv
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