By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to wrap up today (November 8) the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaints filed against those involved in the P6.4 billion illegal drugs shipment seized last May.
Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and his co-respondents in the case are set to file today their respective rejoinders in the case.
Since the complainants are not expected to seek to respond to the rejoinders, the panel of prosecutors conducting the preliminary investigation should declare the case submitted for resolution.
The DOJ conducted the preliminary investigation over the criminal complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against Faeldon and other respondents.
The respondents are accused of drug importation and coddling of drug traffickers in violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Apart from Faeldon, current and former Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials and personnel who have been named as respondents include directors Milo Maestrecampo and Neil Anthony Estrella; intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente; Manila International Container Port district collector Vincent Phillip Maronilla; Faeldon’s fiance, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci; and BOC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.
Also included as respondents are facilitators of the shipment, namely, Mark Taguba II, Teejay Marcellana, Chen Ju Long, Chen Rong Juan, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong, Eirene May Tatad, Emily Dee, Chen I-Min and Jhu Ming Jyun.
Officials of Hong Fei Logistics Inc., which owns the warehouse where the drug shipment was seized, are also named respondents including Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual and Mary Rose Dela Cruz.
Apart from the drug charges, Faeldon and the 11 BOC officials and personnel are also accused of obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829 for harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of the persons behind the drug shipment; negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code; and for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Li, Dong and Taguba were also accused of unauthorized practice of customs broker profession under Republic Act 9280 (Customs Broker Act) after it was found that they had no licenses from the BOC.
Joint operatives of the BOC, PDEA, and the NBI seized 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, on May 26 during a raid at a warehouse of Hongfei Logistics in Valenzuela City.
The shabu shipment managed to enter the country through the BOC after being declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings.
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