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DOJ to appeal P6.4-B ‘shabu’ case dismissal

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. INQUIRER/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra  said on Friday that the government would elevate to the Court of Appeals the decision of the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to dismiss the charges of illegal transport of drugs filed against nine individuals involved in the alleged shipment of “shabu” worth P6.4-billion from China last year.

In a brief statement to reporters, Guevarra said he was informed that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) motion for reconsideration was denied by Valenzuela RTC Branch 284 Judge Arthur Melicor.

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The Valenzuela RTC said the DOJ failed to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of its April 2018 ruling on the case.

“We will question the trial court’s ruling before a superior court (Court of Appeals). We maintain that transport of illegal drugs is a distinct offense from illegal importation, which ends at the customs area,” he said.

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He added that the illegal importation case pending at the Manila RTC was not affected by the Valenzuela RTC ruling.

Nine persons were charged before the Valenzuela RTC, including Chinese businessman Chen Julong, alias Richard Tan, and customs broker Mark Taguba.

‘Forum shopping’

Last April 23, Melicor granted the motion to dismiss filed by Chen, as well as the motion to dismiss and recall the warrant of arrest filed by Taguba and another customs broker, Teejay Marcellana.

The judge granted the motions on the ground of “forum shopping,” saying the cases before Valenzuela and Manila courts had the same set of suspects and used the same arguments.

Taguba and Marcella filed separate motions to dismiss which were also granted by the court.

The others accused were the alleged middle man Li Guang Feng, alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen Xi, alias Kenneth Dong; import company owner Eirene Mae Tatad; and Taiwanese businessmen Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jhun and Chen Rong Huan.

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The case stemmed from the Bureau of Customs’ discovery of the shabu shipment at Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela on May 26, 2017, based on a tip from the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the China Customs.

The drugs arrived at the Port of Manila a few days earlier. The 604-kilogram shabu shipment was one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in the country.

Congress inquiry

Congress also held a legislative inquiry that led to the resignation of then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

Meanwhile, Guevarra was guest of honor at the Foundation for Crime Prevention Inc. and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., which were given the Community Service Award for their support to the 23rd National Crime Prevention Week.

Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong of the National Prosecution Service of the DOJ, and retired Supt. Danilo Gervacio of the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime were recognized for their contribution to the Technical Committee on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

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