MANILA — Customs broker and “fixer” Mark Taguba on Friday apologized to presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law, lawyer Manases “Mans” Carpio for linking them to the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China that slipped through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
In a statement from his lawyer, Raymond Fortun, Taguba said he never testified or will ever testify that Duterte and Carpio were involved in the shipment of illegal drugs to the Philippines or that they were involved in the “tara system” (bribery) at the bureau.
“I am making this statement to clear Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio from any involvement in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country and any anomalies in the Bureau of Customs,” Taguba said in his statement.
“I also hereby apologize to Vice Mayor Duterte, Atty. Carpio and the first family for the proliferation of fake news arising out of my testimony at the Senate yesterday (Thursday),” he added. Taguba also explained that the names of Duterte and Carpio were “merely mentioned” by members of a so-called “Davao Group” whose direct contacts to him were “Tita Nannie” and “Jack.”
He also described the involvement of Duterte and Carpio was “hearsay in nature.”
Moreover, Taguba pointed out that he never met either Duterte or Carpio or discussed any illegal transaction at the bureau with them despite flying to Davao City on January 16, 2017.
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who earlier insisted to the invitation of Duterte and Carpio to the next Senate hearing into the shipment, said that Taguba’s clarification “does not change anything.”
“…Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio should still appear before the Blue Ribbon Committee,” Trillanes said in a separate statement.
“The text messages he read aloud which named Paolo Duterte and Mans Carpio were never forced on him and neither were they fabricated,” he added.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, however, refused to have Duterte and Carpio called to attend the next hearing unless there is sufficient evidence to invite them.
On Thursday, Gordon and Trillanes got into a heated exchange over whether Duterte and Carpio should be invited to the next Senate hearing or not. (PNA)