Ex-BOC exec lauds DOJ dismissal of drug raps

MANILA -- Former Bureau of Customs Investigation and Intelligence Service chief Neil Anthony Estrella welcomed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) dismissal of the criminal charges filed against him and 11 other BOC officials including former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon in connection with the PHP6.4 billion shabu shipment seized in Valenzuela City last May 26.

My team who recovered those drugs were finally vindicated. We thank the Lord Almighty for hearing our prayers, he said in a statement Thursday.

We also forgive those who have falsely accused us it is partly hazard of our profession...may we all find peace with this development as we send our prayers for the continuing challenge to others, the former marine colonel added.

Earlier, Estrella threatened to file criminal raps against responsible PDEA officials if he and the other respondents from the BOC got indicted.

On Wednesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the DOJ panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes dismissed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's (PDEA) 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.

According to Aguirre, the DOJ 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.

Aside from Faeldon and Estrella, also cleared from raps were then 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.

Source: Philippine News Agency