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Customs insists strong case vs P6.4-B drug shipment smugglers

MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has maintained that it has a strong case against several individuals charged with smuggling in connection with the controversial P6.4-billion “shabu” shipment from China that slipped past the Manila port in May.

In its reply to respondents’ counter-affidavits, the BOC insisted that each of those charged may be treated as a “principal by indispensable cooperation” in the illegal drug shipment.

The complaint is for violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, in relation to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, against Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Inc chairman Chen Ju Long aka “Richard Tan” or “Richard Chen”, alleged customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II, businessman Kenneth Dong, Eirene May Tatad, owner of shipment consignee EMT Trading, Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun, warehouse caretaker Fidel Anoche Dee, customs broker Teejay Marcellana, Manny Li, and several unidentified individuals.

“[C]ontrary to the denial of defendants, the process that the defendants adapted in processing the shipments were compartmentalized and structured in such a way to ensure impunity,” BOC’s reply affidavit read.

The bureau used several of the respondents’ admissions to further pin down the latter, such as Li’s admission that he continued to process the shipment with Dong despite Li’s suspicion that the shipment contained illegal drugs.

The BOC also refuted Taguba’s claims that only the importer and consignee may be held liable, pointing out that he admitted to facilitating the shipment with the bureau, thus “assisting in fraudulently importing into the Philippines the drug shipment.”

While respondents claimed the case is already moot because of a separate illegal drug importation case pending before a Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court, the BOC countered by saying the two cases are “separate and distinct.”

The DOJ set another hearing on the complaint on January 4, 2018 for the submission of the BOC and respondents’ respective memoranda. Thereafter, the case shall be deemed submitted for resolution.

The shipment had triggered legislative investigations into alleged corruption at the BOC and prompted several officials, including its former head Nicanor Faeldon, to leave the agency. 

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