MANILA — Chinese businessman Chen Ju Long, also known as Richard Tan, on Monday submitted his counter affidavit during the continuation of preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the smuggling raps filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) against him in relation to the seized PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.
Tan personally submitted his counter affidavit to Assistant State Prosecutor Charles Guhit and denied the charges filed against him by BOC for violations of Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act) and Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act).
Tan argued that the case filed by the BOC should be dismissed for mootness as the same charges filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against him and other respondents have already been filed by the DOJ before the Valenzuela City regional trial court.
“Since the case for violation of Section 4 of R.A. No. 9165 has already been filed by this Honorable Office and is now pending before the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela City, it is respectfully submitted that this case has already been rendered moot,” read his two-page answer.
Tan also adopted his answer in the previous preliminary investigation on the PDEA case, which he submitted to the DOJ last September.
Tan, owner of Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies, Inc. (Hongfei Logistics) said he was shocked when he learned that the shipment that arrived last May which was taken to his warehouse contained illegal drugs.
“Shocked with the disclosure of this information, I immediately reported this matter to the Philippine customs authorities which led to the discovery, seizure and confiscation of the illegal drugs,” Chen said.
He said it was the Chinese customs who informed him of the shipment.
“I am merely a victim of circumstance. Notwithstanding my sincere cooperation with the Philippine customs authorities, and to my utter surprise and disappointment, I have been implicated in the instant case as respondent,” he added.
He said the DOJ must not hesitate in dismissing the case against him for lack of probable cause because “I respectfully believe that people like myself, who have provided information and cooperated with the concerned Philippine authorities, shall no longer be frightened and intimidated to report illegal drug activities that come to our knowledge or attention.”
Guhit said Tan is the only one among the nine respondents in the complaint who had not yet submitted a counter-affidavit.
After Tan submits his counter-affidavit, the BOC will file its consolidated reply to all of the counter-affidavits on December 20.
Guhit said he hopes to wrap up the preliminary investigation of the BOC complaint by January 4 when all of the parties would be asked to submit their respective memorandum.
Aside from Tan, the other respondents are customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba and businessman Kenneth Dong, Chen, Eirene May Tatad, owner of EMT Trading, consignee of the drug shipment, Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun, warehouseman Fidel Anoche Dee, Marcellana, Li and unidentified individuals whom the BOC believed to have been involved in the shabu shipment.
Under the BOC complaint, all nine respondents are accused of unlawful importation in violation of provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Tan is the chairman and general manager of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Inc. which owns the warehouse in Valenzuela City where the 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, was discovered last May 26.
He recently tried to leave for China after the DOJ filed charges last November 22 before the Valenzuela City regional trial court against him and eight others based on the complaint filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in connection with the drug shipment.
The businessman was not allowed to leave since he is placed in the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) and had to secure an Allow Departure Order (ADO).
They were charged before the RTC with importation of dangerous drugs under under Section 4, in relation to Section 26 (a) of Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors found probable cause to charge him in court in connection on the charges filed by PDEA and NBI.
Aside from Tan, also charged were Mark Ruben Taguba II, Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong, Eirene Mae Tatad, Tee Jay Marcellana, Chen I. Min, Jhu Ming Jhun and Chen Ronghuan.
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.
The panel recommended no bail for each of the accused.