Valenzuela court junks DOJ plea vs. 9 in P6.4-B shabu haul

MANILA A Valenzuela Regional Trial Court (RTC) has denied the Department of Justice's (DOJ) plea, seeking to reverse its decision that dismissed the drug charges against nine persons, including Chinese businessman Chen Julong, alias Richard Tan; and customs broker Mark Taguba, over the PHP6.4-billion shipment of illegal drugs last year.

"I have been informed that our motion for reconsideration was denied," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message sent to reporters.

Guevarra said they will elevate the case to the Court of Appeals.

"We will question the trial court's ruling before a superior court (Court of Appeals). We maintain that transport of illegal drugs is a distinct offense from illegal importation, which ends at the Customs area," he said.

"The illegal importation case pending at RTC-Manila is not affected by this adverse ruling," he added.

The Valenzuela RTC Branch 284 said the DOJ failed to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of its Apil 23, 2018 ruling.

In its decision, Valenzuela RTC Branch 284 Presiding Judge Arthur Melicor granted the motion to dismiss case filed by Julong, as well as the entry of appearance with urgent omnibus motion to dismiss and recall the warrant of arrest filed by Taguba and Teejay Marcellana, also a customs broker. It also granted the motions on the ground of forum shopping.

Aside from Taguba, Marcellana, and Julong, also accused in the drug case are alleged middle man Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong; import company owner Eirene Mae Tatad; and Taiwanese businessmen Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jhun, and Chen Rong Huan.

The court also granted the separate motions to dismiss by Taguba and Marcella.

Melicor said the prosecution's move clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping and betray (their) intent to secure favorable judgment from different courts.

Forum shopping is when a case involving same facts is filed in two separate courts in hopes that one of them will rule favorably.

The accused still have to face trial for similar drug charges re-filed by the government prosecutors before the Manila RTC.

The case stemmed from the Bureau of Customs' (BOC) discovery of the shabu shipment at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 26, 2017 based on a tip from the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the China Customs.

The 604-kg. shabu (crystal meth) shipment is one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in the country, and was the subject of a lengthy congressional probe that also led to the resignation of former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency