January 23, 2018, 1:55 am
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No need for lifestyle check on Duterte, Carpio: Palace

BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR AND JP LOPEZ

MALACAÑANG yesterday said there is no need for presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio to undergo a lifestyle check because a Senate blue ribbon committee report said they were only dragged into the alleged illegal drug smuggling issue based on hearsay and rumors.

The draft committee report prepared by Sen. Richard Gordon absolved the young Duterte and Carpio in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu through the Bureau of Customs.

Instead, it recommended that the National Bureau of Investigation subject them to a lifestyle check.

Still, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the two are open to it, as affirmed by Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“As the finding of the Senate committee shows, they were dragged based on rumors. In the end you have no bases, so why conduct a lifestyle check? But at the same time, I agree with Mayor Sara when she said, ‘All right, just to end this.’ In other words, they have a clear conscience that’s why they are not scared of a lifestyle check,” he said.

Panelo said even the members of the Duterte Cabinet are open to a lifestyle check, if asked.

He said the only concern is that some of the Cabinet officials are already rich before they entered government. He said this should, however, not pose a problem especially if there had been no change in their lifestyle now that they are in public service.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Carpio could not be compelled to undergo a lifestyle check because he is not a public official.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said he will oppose the committee report in the plenary and “make sure it is not adopted by the Senate.”

Trillanes described the recommendation of Gordon’s committee as a mere “cover-up to please his political master,” referring to President Duterte.

“Suspected drug pushers and users are wantonly killed in the streets while the people behind the illegal drug smuggling are merely subjected to a lifestyle check,” he said in a statement sent to reporters.

“This is a clear case of a cover-up by Senator Gordon to please his political master,” he added.

Trillanes said Gordon should not terminate its investigation on the shabu shipment until one of the members of the so-called Davao Group, a certain Tita Nanie, is located and invited to appear in the hearing.

Tita Nanie is the alleged contact of Customs fixer Mark Taguba II to the Davao Group.

He said Duterte and Carpio should be included in the recommendation to be charged with criminal offenses for importing illegal substance.
 
LOOKOUT BULLETIN

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he will issue an immigration look-out bulletin order against former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other Customs officials charged in the P6.4-billion smuggling of shabu from China last May.

Aguirre said this is to ensure that Faeldon and the other respondents would not evade criminal proceedings in the country.

“Since the preliminary investigation is already ongoing. We will issue the ILBO if the cases would be filed in court,” he said.

He said he is just waiting for the results of the preliminary investigation by the panel of prosecutors headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes.

An ILBO would not necessarily prevent a person from leaving the country unlike a hold departure order.

A person subject to the ILBO must seek an Allow Departure Order from the DOJ chief to be allowed to leave.

It will be recalled that former Customs Investigation and Intelligence Service chief Neil Estrella, one of the respondents in the case, has said in a public forum that he would go into hiding if the DOJ finds probable cause to indict him.

“These are non-bailable offenses. I don’t intend to spend my life in jail for the things I did not even commit,” Estrella was quoted as saying.

But on Wednesday, Estrella clarified that his statement was just an emotional reaction.

“We are confident that we will be cleared after the DOJ sifts through the faulty complaint filed by the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency). We will not go into hiding, we will face our accusers in court if need be,” he added.

Faeldon has already said he has no intention of hiding.

Aside from Faeldon and Estrella, the other BOC officials and employees charged by PDEA for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, specifically for conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting or coddling of illegal drug traffickers are BOC Director Milo Maestrecampo, intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente, Manila International Container Port district collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla, Faeldon’s fiancee lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci, and Customs employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.

They were also charged with obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829 by “harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape” of the persons behind the illegal drugs shipment as well as negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.

Aguirre took exception to the allegation in the Senate panel report that he displayed a cavalier attitude during the hearing.

He said there is no truth to the claim in the report that he did not give the controversial case the attention it needed, adding that he even issued an immigration look-out bulletin order against some of the respondents in the case.

He said a panel of prosecutors has already started the preliminary investigation of the case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and the PDEA.

The panel will determine if there is probable cause to warrant the filing of the complaint before the trial court.

The draft report said it seems that Aguirre has left the matter to the NBI, the PDEA and his subordinates.

“He created the impression that he was too busy with other things. Not felt or not put through to the Committee was a sense of urgency, a sense that speed was an imperative. He gave the impression that he did not give this case the needed attention,” the report added.

Aguirre said it was only Gordon’s opinion, which do not have basis. – With Ashzel Hachero
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