Manila court resets arraignment of accused in P6.4-B shabu shipment
The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 on Friday rescheduled the arraignment of the accused in the controversial P6.4 billion shabu shipment case.
In a hearing, RTC Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa moved the arraignment to April 27. It was the second time that the arraignment was reset by the court.
During the hearing, Judge Montesa allowed defense lawyers to file their motions for reconsideration after three of their motions—a motion to suppress evidence, a motion to quash the charges, and a motion to defer arraignment—were denied.
Only Mark Ruben Taguba II, a fixer at the Bureau of Customs, and Eirene May Tatad, the owner of EMT Trading, were the only accused present at the hearing.
The Department of Justice found probable cause to indict Taguba, Tatad and 10 others for violating RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Aside from Taguba and Tatad, other respondents in the case are Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong, Teejay Marcellana, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jhyun, Richard Tan, Chen Rong Juan and three John Does.
Taguba and Tatad have been detained at the Manila City Jail since February following their surrender to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
It was Taguba who tapped Tatad’s trading company to serve as the importer or consignee of the shabu shipment from China.
Both Taguba and Tatad have maintained their innocence, stressing that they had no knowledge of the actual contents of the shipment when it passed through the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) “express lane.”
Shipments that pass through the “express lane” are not subject to any x-ray check or inspection. This led to a series of congressional inquiries, which put the spotlight on the widely practiced “tara” or payola system at the BOC. /muf