MANILA — Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. on Thursday showed up in the sixth hearing into the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China after skipping the fifth hearing on the issue on August 29.
It may be recalled that Abellera, in a letter to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, explained that he could not attend the previous hearing because of hypertension but attached his affidavit where he denied his involvement in the illegal shipment.
During Thursday’s hearing, Abellera denied anew any participation in the illegal shipment and he alleged membership in the so-called “Davao Group,” which Customs broker and fixer Mark Taguba claimed facilitated the shipment.
“Hindi po ako member ng Davao Group, sir. Gaya ng sinabi niya [Taguba] (I’m not a member of the Davao Group like he [Taguba] said),” Abellera told Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
Abellera denied Taguba’s claim that he accepted a PHP5 million enrollment fee but admitted having met him in a restobar, Casa de Amigos, in Davao City on Jan. 16, 2017.
When questioned, Taguba said that he could not recall the name of the restaurant they met. However, Abellera was able to supply the information.
Abellera added that he met Taguba through a certain “Jack”, who asked him to help a Customs broker to meet with Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
Taguba earlier claimed that the PHP1 million weekly payment was coursed through Jack.
Abellera said he “politely,” told Jack that he could not arrange a meeting with Paolo Duterte.
Aside from Abellera, another resource person invited in the hearing was former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who said he would attend the hearing after holding a press conference. Faeldon, however, did not show up despite the subpoena issued against him. (PNA)