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Aguirre denies 'carefree attitude' over P6.4-B shabu shipment case

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II slammed the Senate panel report stating that he did not give due attention on the case of the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment that passed through the Bureau of Customs undetected and eventually seized in two warehouses in Valenzuela City last May 26.

The draft report prepared by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon said it seems that Aguirre has left the matter to the National Bureau Investigation (NBI), the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and his subordinates.

“He (Aguirre) created the impression that he was too busy with other things. Not felt or not put through to the Committee was a sense of urgency, a sense that speed was an imperative. He gave the impression that he did not give this case the needed attention,” the report said.

Aguirre belied the claim noting that he even issued an immigration look-out bulletin order against some of the respondents in the case.

“That’s his opinion but I vehemently deny that because his observations are absolutely without any basis, except for the fact that I have many things to do,” Aguirre said.

He said a panel of prosecutors has already started the preliminary investigation of the case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The panel will determine if there is probable cause to warrant the filing of the complaint before the trial court.

Former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, former BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service chief Neil Estrella, BOC Director Milo Maestrecampo, intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente; Manila International Container Port district collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla; Faeldon‘s fiancé, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci; and BOC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor were accused of conspiring to import illegal drugs and coddling drug traffickers under Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

They were also charged with obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829 by “harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape” of the persons behind the shabu shipment, as well as negligence under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.

The PDEA also charged them with violation of the Anti-Graft Law for allegedly “causing any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

In the same complaint, the PDEA filed illegal drug importation charges under RA 9165 against alleged importers and facilitators of the shabu shipment -- Chen Ju Long, Chen Rong Juan, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong, Mark Taguba II, Teejay Marcellana, Eirene May Tatad, Emily Dee, Chen I-Min and Jhu Ming Jyun.

It also included in the charge sheet the directors and officers of Hong Fei Logistics Inc., the warehouse where the shabu shipment was seized – Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual and Mary Rose dela Cruz.

The panel of prosecutors set October 19 as the deadline for the respondents to file their respective counter-affidavits.

The DOJ have consolidated the two complaints.

Christopher Lloyd Caliwan /PNA