Taguba, Dong seek dismissal of raps over shabu shipment

MANILA -- Alleged customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba and businessman Dong Yi Shen alias Kenneth Dong appeared before the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek the dismissal of another complaint filed by Bureau of Customs (BOC) in connection on the shipment of P6.4 billion of illegal drugs seized last May.

The BOC filed last September 15 before the DOJ against nine persons including Taguba, Dong, Eirene Mae Tatad, owner of EMT Trading; TeejayMarcellana, customs broker of EMT Trading; Chen Ju Long, chairman and general manager of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Inc.; warehouseman Fidel Anoche Dee; Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun; and businessman Li GuangFeng are accused of unlawful importation in violation of provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

During the continuation of preliminary investigation on Monday, Taguba and Dong appeared and affirmed their respective counter-affidavits before Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit.

In his counter-affidavit, Taguba said he could not be charged in connection with the shipment "being merely the provider of trucking services and facilitator and financer" to process the release of the container from the BOC.

"Moreover, importation has been terminated before Mr. TeejayMarcellana or I had any participation in the documentation of shipment, as can be gleaned from Customs Entry No. C129547 which is dated May 17, 2017. It must be borne in mind that according to the BOC, the container arrived on May 16, 2017," Taguba's counter-affidavit read.

Taguba said only the importer and the consignee could be held liable for illegal importation.

Taguba said he only relied on the packing list and other shipping documents that Dong provided him "every time he has a client who is seeking to ship goods."

"I have no knowledge of the actual contents of the container, nor would I have a way to verify the same. To indict me with charges of Section 4 of Republic Act 9165 (importation of dangerous drugs) is at the height of injustice, and could very well set a bad precedent in the logistics industry," he said.

For his part, Dong said there was no "direct material evidence" to indict him for the importation of the 602.2-kilogram shabu shipment.

"My complicity to the crime, if this be the case, cannot be anchored on my business relationship or association, if any, with my co-respondents," the counter-affidavit stated.

He admitted to helping his friend and co-respondent Manny Li find a broker that would facilitate the processing of the shipment of Li's client, Hongfei Logistics.

That broker turned out to be Taguba.

Dong said he translated to English the cargo's packing list forwarded to him by Li, which was written in Chinese.

After translating the list to English, Dong sent the list, which contains the item specification, quantity, container's total weight and its corresponding container number, to Taguba.

"Most importantly, I have not, in one instance or another dealt with or personally transacted with any of the BOC employees responsible for the inspection/verification of imported goods," Dong said.

The BOC discovered the 604 kilograms of shabu last May 26 at the Hongfei warehouse in Valenzuela City based on a tip from the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the China Customs.

After the discovery, the BOC and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted a controlled delivery of some of the shipment containing the shabu to its final intended destination, based on the markings on the crates, to Dee at a house at 3050 F. Bautista St., Ugong, Valuenzuela.

Emily Sevilla Anoche, Dee's sister and owner of the house, told investigators that the house was rented by the two Taiwanese who requested that she recommend a relative to work as their warehouseman.

The BOC said the shabu shipment arrived in the Philippines last May 16 from Quanzho, China and was declared as containing cutting boards, footware, kitchenwares, and moulds.

The declaration was both certified and signed as true and correct by EMT Trading and its Brokerr, Teejay A. Marcellana, the BOC said in its complaint.

The BOC noted that Hongfei is registered as forwarder, however, its registration expired on July 12, 2014.

Despite the expiration of its registration, however, Hongfei continued to operate as an international freight forwarder by engaging consultants who handle the release of goods from the Bureau of Customs, said the BOC which indicated Hongfei hired the services of Li since February.

Li who has been looking for a broker to handle the release of goods from the BOC got the services of Taguba at the recommendation of Dong.

However, the BOC pointed out Taguba as verified by the Professional Regulations Commission, is not a registered Customs Broker.

Taguba then had a verbal agreement with EMT Trading to use the name of EMT Trading as importer/consigneee of his transactions in exchange for a royalty/retainer of PHP1,500 per container.

Source: Philippine News Agency