Aguirre slams senators irked over DOJ dismissal of drug raps

By , on November 24, 2017

ustice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II gives updates on the cases filed against Senator Leila De Lima during a press briefing in Malacañan on November 16, 2016. ALBERT ALCAIN/Presidential Photo
FILE: Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II  (ALBERT ALCAIN/Presidential Photo)

MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday slammed senators who were displeased with the dismissal of the criminal charges filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and 11 other BOC officials in connection with the PHP6.4 billion shabu shipment seized in Valenzuela City last May 26.

Aguirre said the DOJ was resolving cases only on the basis of evidence.

Yung palagi nakikita natin sa TV yung napakatagal ng investigation ng Senado (The long and tedious Senate investigation that we see on TV), perhaps the Senate during its investigation (was) able to establish the culpability of some individuals in the Bureau of Customs but did not submit it to the (panel) DOJ, that will not be considered,” Aguirre told reporters.

Aguirre said if they are dissatisfied with the findings of the DOJ panel, they can file a petition for review or they could still file a motion for reconsideration on the matter.

Masyado mabilis mag-comment tong mga Senator na ito, hindi nila nalalaman kung ano ang proseso dito sa DOJ. Kayo bago kayo magbuka ng bibig, yung mga ibang senador dyan, mag-aral muna kayo, hindi nyo nalalaman proseso dito, (Those senators were fast to comment but they do not even know the process. I suggest that they make an effort to know the process before making comments.)” Aguirre said.

Among the senators who were disappointed with the DOJ’s move were Panfilo Lacson, Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino and Richard Gordon.

The DOJ chief said the complainants could still file a motion for reconsideration “where they could cure some defects in their complaint and/or give additional evidence to strengthen their case against those persons not indicted.”

He also reiterated that he did not interfere on any resolution from the National Prosecution Service (NPS).

Ilang beses ko ba sasabihin hindi ako nakikialam sa NPS? Hindi ko kailan man ginawa at hindi ko kailan man kinausap yan. (How many times do I have to say that I am not interfering with the NPS. I have never done that and I did not even talk to them.) As of this stage, the case is still in the preliminary stage and the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) has still nothing to do with the proceedings there. As a matter of fact, I have not yet read the resolution of the National Prosecution Service. Because pwedeng um-appeal sa akin yan at merong automatic review yan kasi drug case yan. (They can file an appeal and there is an automatic review for that because it is a drug case.) Whether it is dismissed or not, I will review that. It has to go up to the Secretary,” Aguirre added.

He said that he is ready to face the Senate once they call me for investigation.

“I am willing to (be) investigated. Pupunta ako sa inyo, sasama ko lang yung DOJ panel ko because I have trust in them. (I will come to you with my DOJ panel because I have trust in them). I am sure we will be able to justify kung bakit ganyan ang naging conclusion (I am sure we will be able to justify why we came up with such a conclusion.) ,” he explained.

The DOJ dismissed PDEA’s complaint for conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting or coddling of drug traffickers under Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, and corrupt practices of public officers under Section 3 of R.A. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for lack of probable cause.

It cited PDEA’s “failure to state with clarity the acts or omission supposedly committed by the above-named BOC respondents that would constitute violation of the offense charged” as basis in clearing Faeldon of the charges.

“Further, the evidence adduced by the PDEA in support of the charges were insufficient to establish probable case. Thus, the Panel is constrained to take into consideration the defense raised by the respondents,” read the resolution.

For his part, DOJ panel head Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes explained that PDEA’s complaint failed because of the lack of claritiy on the part of the complaint filed by the pdea and the failure of the pdea to allege with specifity the acts or ommissions committed by the respondents that constitute violation of the charges

“Very general yung allegation. Hindi nila sinabi kung ano yung acts, nasaan yung participation, nasaan yung pagkukulang ng mga BOC personnel, saan sila pumasok na involved sila sa importation. (The allegation was very general. They did not say what these acts are. Where is the participation? How did the BOC personnel commit neglect of duty? How were they involved in the importation.) We have given them opportunities to submit additional evidence in their reply but what they submitted is a three-page reply discussing only principle on probable cause. So na-miss out na nila chances nila (So they missed out their chances.),” Reyes told reporters during the press briefing on Friday.

Aside from Faeldon, also cleared from raps were then BoC Investigation and Intelligence Service chief Neil Anthony Estrella BOC Director Milo Maestrecampo, Intelligence Officer Joel Pinawin, Intelligence Officer Oliver Valiente, Atty. Jeleena Magsuci, Atty. Philip Maronilla, Alexandra Y. Ventura, Randolph O. Cabansag, Dennis J. Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.

Apart from those from the BOC, the DOJ also cleared from liability respondents from the National Bureau Investigation’s Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD), corporate officers of Hong Fei Logistics and Emily Enoche Dee.

On the other hand, the DOJ found probable cause to indict for importation of dangerous drugs under Section 4, in relation to Section 26 (a) of Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the following: Chen Ju Long, alias Richard Tan or Richard Chen; Li Guang Feng, alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen, alias Kenneth Dong; Mark Ruben Taguba II; Eirene Mae Tatad; Teejay Marcellana; Chen Min; Jhu Ming Jhun; and Chen Rong Huan. No bail has been recommended against them.

In finding probable cause against the above-named respondents for the importation of 602 kilograms of shabu, the panel determined that the combination of the individual participation of each of the respondents, either as shipper, consolidator, facilitator, broker, financier, consignee, or warehouse lessee — reveals a pattern of overt acts indicative of conspiracy to import into the country the dangerous drugs.

In view thereof, the panel recommended the filing of the corresponding criminal information for importation of dangerous drugs against the above named respondents with no bail recommended.