BREAKING: Taguba pleads not guilty to charges over P6.4-B shabu shipment
Customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II has pleaded not guilty to the illegal drug charges lodged against him in connection with the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling case.
Taguba entered the plea during his arraignment on Friday morning before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46.
On the other hand, EMT Trading owner Eirene May Tatad, the consignee of the shabu shipment, refused to enter a plea to the drug charges in her arraignment.
In accordance with court rules, RTC Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa enteted a not guilty plea for Tatad.
Only Taguba and Tatad were the accused present during the arraignment.
Taguba, Tatad, and 10 other accused, were indicted by the Department of Justice for illegal drug importation and transportation charges in violation of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Others charged in court were Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong, Teejay Marcellana, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jhyun, Chen Rong Juan, Richard Tan and three John Does.
Judge Montesa scheduled the pre-trial hearing on May 25.
Taguba was detained at Camp Bagong Diwa while Tatad was detained at the Manila City Jail in February following their surrender to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
It was Taguba who tapped EMT Trading, Tatad’s firm, to act as a consignee of the shipment, which was initially believed to be kitchenware but was revealed to be shabu after an inspection by authorities.
Both have claimed innocence, insisting that they did now know the actual contents of the shipment that passed through the Bureau of Customs “express lane.”
Shipments that pass through the “express lane” are not subjected to any x-ray check or inspection. The fiasco led to a series of congressional inquiries, which put the spotlight on the widely practiced “tara” or payoff system at the bureau. /muf
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