February 25, 2018, 9:53 am
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Faeldon, others cleared of drug charges

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday dismissed the criminal charges filed against former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon in connection with the importation of P6.4 billion worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC) last May from China.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the panel of prosecutors headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes also cleared Director Milo Maestrecampo, Director Neil Estrella, Intelligence Officer Joel Pinawin, Intelligence Officer Oliver Valiente, Atty. Jeleena Magsuci, Atty. Philip Maronilla, Alexandra Ventura, Randolph O. Cabansag, Dennis J. Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor of involvement in the importation of the illegal drugs.

The DOJ said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) failed to substantiate its allegations against them.

The BOC officials were charged by the PDEA for conspiracy to import illegal drugs, coddling drug traffickers in violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, negligence and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices.

“PDEA failed to state with clarity the acts or omissions supposedly committed by the above-named respondents that would constitute violation of the offense charged,” the DOJ resolution said.

“Further, the evidence adduced by the PDEA in support of the charges were insufficient to establish probable cause. Thus, the panel is constrained to take into consideration the defense raised by the respondents,” it added.

The DOJ also dismissed the cases for violation of Section 32 of RA 9165 for retaining custody of the seized shabu shipment filed against officials of National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division led by lawyers Dennis Siyhian and Marie Catherine Nolasco, Special Investigators Marfil Baso, Joselito Guilen, Edgardo Kawada and Darwin Francisco.

The panel said there is no probable cause or justification to sue the NBI officials.

“The panel finds that, under the circumstances attendant to the case, and pursuant to relevant Dangerous Drugs Board Regulations and jurisprudence, the NBI-AOTCT is justified to retain custody of the 500 kilograms of shabu which they seized, examined and investigated,” it said.

The DOJ also dismissed the charges against officials of Hong Fei Logistics namely Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual and Mary Rose Dela Cruz.

It will be recalled that the multi-billion shipment was seized by authorities at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela city.

The DOJ said PDEA “failed to show that the said officers of Hong Fei Logistics knowingly consented or actively participated” in the shabu importation.

Also cleared by the DOJ were Emily Anoche Dee who was charged by PDEA for allegedly maintaining a drug den, saying that the agency failed to substantiate its accusations.

Dee maintained she did not know that the property she rented to the suspects was being used as a transshipment point for the illegal drugs.

A similar case against Fidel Anoche has been dismissed by the DOJ because a similar case is already pending before the Valenzuela City regional trial court.

INDICTED

But the panel found probable cause to indict before the Valenzuela City RTC Customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II and eight others for violation of Section 4 of RA 9165 (importation of dangerous drugs).

Aside from Taguba, also charged by the DOJ for importation of dangerous drugs were Chen Ju Long alias Richard Tan or Richard Chen, Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong, Eirene Mae Tatad, Customs broker Tee Jay Marcellana, Chen I. Min, Jhu Ming Jhun and Chen Rong Huan.

The DOJ noted the combination of the participation of Taguba and the other respondents either as “shipper, consolidator, facilitator, broker, financier, consignee, or lessee of the warehouse where the shabu was seized,” adding that this showed a pattern of acts “indicative of conspiracy to import” the dangerous drugs into the country.

The panel recommended no bail for Taguba and the other respondents.   
 
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