Valenzuela court junks drug raps vs. 9 suspects on P6.4B shabu haul

MANILA The Valenzuela Regional Trial Court (RTC) has dismissed the drug charges filed against nine persons, including Chinese businessman Chen Julong, alias Richard Tan, and customs broker Mark Taguba, in connection with the PHP6.4-billion shipment of illegal drugs last year.

However, the accused still have to face trial for similar drug charges re-filed by the government prosecutors before the Regional Trial Court of Manila City.

Aside from Taguba and Tan, others accused are alleged middle man Li Guang Feng, alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen Xi, alias Kenneth Dong; import company owner Eirene Mae Tatad; customs broker Teejay Marcellana; Taiwanese businessmen Chen I-Min; Jhu Ming Jhun; and Chen Rong Huan.

In a nine-page order, Valenzuela RTC Branch 284 Presiding Judge Arthur Melicor granted the motions to dismiss ad cautelam (as a precaution) filed by Julong and entry of appearance with urgent omnibus motion to dismiss and recall the warrant of arrest filed by Taguba and Marcellana to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of forum shopping.

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

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

Melicor said that the state prosecutors have filed a drug importation case before a Manila court with the same set of accused and based on same arguments after it was earlier dismissed by another Valenzuela court.

"Filing a case for importation in Manila after the court in Valenzuela City has dismissed an earlier case for importation for lack of jurisdiction, and then filing another case, this time for transportation, before this court involving the same accused and based on the same facts, issues and arguments, clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping," read Melicor's decision dated April 23, 2018.

"From the point of view of the conspiracy to import the subject shabu, it may be said that the transport and delivery to the Hong Fei warehouse was a mere part of a series of acts to execute their shared design to import shabu," it added.

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-kilogram shabu shipment is one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in the country, and was a subject of a lengthy congressional probe which also led to the resignation of former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency