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Hold departure orders sought vs foreigns in ‘shabu’ case

State prosecutors are urging a Manila court to issue hold departure orders (HDOs) against six foreigners tagged in the P6.4-billion “shabu” (crystal meth) smuggling scandal in May that implicated several officials of the Bureau of Customs.

In a motion filed at Branch 46 of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC), the prosecutors urged Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa to issue HDOs against Chinese nationals Richard Chen, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong and Chen Rong Huan and Taiwanese citizens Chen I-Min and Jhu Ming Jyun.

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The six, along with alleged Customs fixer Mark Taguba, Eirene Mae Tatad and Teejay Marcellana, were charged with illegal drug importation and transportation in the country.

Flight risks

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“Being Chinese and Taiwanese citizens, the probability of flight of the above-named accused are strong to escape prosecution, as well as to avoid facing their criminal liability and thus frustrate the ends of justice,” the motion read.

An HDO, which can only be issued by an RTO hearing the criminal charges, would direct the Bureau of Immigration to bar the accused from leaving the country.

In January, resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Chen, owner of Hongfei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City where the shabu shipment was discovered, had allegedly tried to flee the Philippines twice but his departure was barred because of a lookout bulletin.

Bribe offer

He also allegedly tried to bribe an immigration official with P10 million in exchange for clearance to leave the country, Aguirre had said.

But Save for Taguba and Tatad, who are now detained, the six foreign nationals and Marcellana remain at large although Montesa issued in February arrest warrants against them.

The case stemmed from the importation on May 28, 2017, of P6.4 billion worth of shabu.

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Chen I-Min, Chen Rong Huan, Customs shabu shipment, drug smuggling, Eirene Mae Tatad, hold-departure orders, Jhu Ming Jyun, Kenneth Dong, Manny Li, Mark Taguba, Richard Chen, Teejay Marcellana
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