Barbers committee wants Faeldon charged over P6.4-B shabu
The House of Representatives committee on dangerous drugs found resigned-Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon liable for graft, planting of evidence and bungling of evidence in connection with the P6.4 billion in shabu that was smuggled into the country.
This is among the findings of the committee chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers following a probe on the shipment of 604 kilos of shabu that Faeldon and his men seized from two warehouses in Valenzuela City.
According to the report, Faeldon planted evidence when he ordered the controlled delivery of 100 kilos of shabu, which were already tampered with, to a second warehouse in F. Bautista St., Ugong, Valenzuela.
“The controlled delivery to warehouse caretaker Fidel Anoche Dee was ‘flawed and anomalous’ because it did not have the written approval of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general, as required under regulations,” the report said.
“The crate that was delivered to Fidel Anoche Dee was an ‘opened’ one which was re-stacked with 100 kilos of shabu. They were delivering it to him amounts to ‘planting’ that evidence in his person and possession, nothing more nothing less,” the report said.
“Thus, there was no controlled delivery, only planting of evidence, and this was done upon the instruction of Commissioner Faeldon and operationally directed or carried out by CIIS Director Estrella and his Team leaders Joel C. Pinawin and Oliver A. Valiente,” the report added.
The committee called the controlled delivery illegal for “being fruit of the poisonous tree.”
“Having been obtained illegally, all the pieces of evidence seized at Hong Fei warehouse are inadmissible in evidence for being a ‘fruit of the poisonous tree,'” the report read.
The committee also took notice of the handling of evidence, because the cylinders of shabu were found scattered on the floor, and thus seized or confiscated before the conduct of the controlled delivery.
“The evidence contained in a number of sealed transparent plastic bags were scattered inside the Hong Fei warehouse with so many people around. It appears that those pieces of evidence were not properly handled or securely placed while they were inside the Hong Fei warehouse during marking and inventory,” the report read.
“It should be noted that the shabu itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and in sustaining conviction under RA 9165, the identity and integrity of the corpus delicti must definitely be shown to have been preserved,” it added.
Faeldon and the other customs officials thus violated the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, the anti-graft law, Revised Penal Code, Civil Service law, and other laws because of the bungled handling of shabu evidence, the committee said.
Faeldon was also found liable for coddling and protecting the Hong Fei Logistics owner Richard Chen from arrest and prosecution, punishable under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, when he and the other customs officials regarded him as “not a suspect but an informant and thus free from any responsibility,” according to the report.
The committee also recommended graft charges against Faeldon and her chief of staff Atty. Mandy Anderson, for allowing the Daily Time Records (DTRs) of the basketball and volleyball players, who were hired by the BOC as Technical Assistants and Counter Intelligence Analysts when they played for the BOC’s basketball and volleyball teams.
The committee also found Anderson liable for usurpation of powers and falsification for signing the public documents as chief of staff even though she was hired as a consultant.
Anderson earlier got involved in a tiff with the lower House after she called on a social media post Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez an “imbecile” for allegedly pushing for the promotion of a favored but unqualified employee in the Customs.
She claimed later getting threats from people close to Alvarez saying they were ordered to bring hell to her and Faeldon.
The recommendations of Barber’s committee also came after Faeldon’s reforms at Customs led to the suspension or investigation of hundreds of erring brokers.
The committee recommended the PDEA to file charges for planting of evidence against the Richard Chen, the businessman who owns the warehouse where the shabu were delivered; Kenneth Dong, his alleged middleman; Manny Li; Eirene Mae Tatad of EMT Trading; Teejay Marcellana; and private broker Mark Taguba.
Taguba was the witness who testified about the tara or grease money system per smuggled container in the BOC. Though cloaked in legislative immunity, he was found liable for violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Administration Act and importation of illegal drugs under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Barbers had said that Taguba was only immune from libel charges in connection with his testimony.
The committee however did not recommend charges in connection with the alleged tara system, recommending instead a “deeper probe” into the rampant corruption in the bureau.
“This is how corruption in the BOC unraveled during the hearings. Mark Taguba, a self-confessed ‘player’ in the Bureau, revealed the existence of the so-called “tara” system. It is a practice of regularly giving amount of money for customs officials to facilitate processing for release of shipments. It represents the amount of share per container of certain individuals from some offices or units in the Bureau of Customs. He testified that the ‘tara’ system is openly known and rampant. This amount is usually collected every Friday and the same is said to be distributed later on that day. It is from this practice that the so-called ‘Friday Habit’ or ‘3:00 o’clock Habit’ are derived,” the report read.
“Investigation on the culture of corruption in the Bureau is complex task. It requires deep scrutiny to determine the extent of the anomaly and identify the officials involved. The mandate of this Committee, however, is confined to matters related to illegal drugs. So far, it has been established that the existing corrupt practices under Commissioner Faeldon’s watch have made our ports vulnerable to smuggling illegal drugs. To get into the bottom of this issue, a deeper probe should be taken up in the appropriate Committee in the House,” the report added.
Faeldon resigned amid allegations by Sen. Panfilo Lacson that he received a P100 million “pasalubong” when he assumed his post at Customs. He denied Lacson’s accusation while claiming that the senator’s son, Pampi, was involved in undervaluing cement shipments, which constituted technical smuggling.
Lacson has defended his son and denied Pampi was involved in the smuggling of cement. CBB
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