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DOJ starts probe of P6.4-B shabu shipment

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday started the preliminary investigation on the charges against three Filipino-Chinese businessmen and seven others involved in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu last May.

Dong Yi Shen, alias Kenneth Dong, appeared at the hearing and submitted his counter-affidavit denying the charge of importing illegal drugs, a violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. He was earlier arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over a rape case and is now detained at the Parañaque city jail.

Another respondent, importer Eirene May Tatad, submitted an answer and denied knowledge of the importation of 605 transparent plastic bags of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Tatad owns EMT Trading, which was used by the brokers as importer or consignee for the shipment.

Three other respondents – Filipino-Chinese businessman Chen Ju Long alias Richard Chen, and brokers Mark Ruben Taguba II and Teejay Marcellana – either appeared at the hearing or sent their lawyers but were not ready to submit answers.

Investigating assistant state prosecutor Aristotle Reyes ordered them to file their counter-affidavits at the next hearing on Sept. 25.

Reyes said the rest of the respondents – Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun – who failed to appear before the DOJ have lost their opportunity to answer the charges and the complaint against them was already considered submitted for resolution. Chinese authorities identified Chen and Jhu as the real owners of the shipment. Their alleged local contact, Fidel Dee, was arrested by authorities upon receiving the contraband.

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Investigation showed that Chen tapped Li for the processing of the release of the shipment declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings from the Bureau of Customs. Li then tapped Dong to look for a customs broker to facilitate the release. Dong later contracted Taguba, who has been testifying in congressional inquiries about the drug smuggling case, and Marcellana as brokers. 

Both Chen and Li denied having any knowledge that there were drugs in the shipment.

Taguba’s lawyer Raymond Fortun questioned the complaint filed by the NBI for being incomplete.

“In this particular complaint, the person whom the drugs came from, Tong Yeng Ping, is not part of the complaint. If there is any person who should be charged, it should be the person who sent the drugs here,” Fortun stressed.

Apart from drug charges, Li, Dong and Taguba were charged with unauthorized practice of customs broker profession under Republic Act 9280 (Customs Broker Act) after it was found that they did not have the necessary license from the BOC.

The case was also investigated by the Senate.

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