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Faeldon seeks dismissal of raps over P6.4-B shabu

Nicanor Faeldon sought the outright dismissal of the complaint filed by the PDEA against him, arguing that the DOJ has no jurisdiction over the case. Senate PRIB/Romy Bugante, File

MANILA, Philippines — Former officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) led by ex-commissioner Nicanor Faeldon appeared before the Department of Justice yesterday and sought the dismissal of charges filed against them by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) over the smuggling of P6.4-billion shabu last May.

Faeldon sought the outright dismissal of the complaint filed by the PDEA against him, arguing that the DOJ has no jurisdiction over the case.

In his motion submitted to the investigating panel of prosecutors during the first hearing of the preliminary investigation, the former BOC chief said the ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate the charges because he had a salary grade higher than 27.

Faeldon argued that since his post as BOC commissioner had a salary grade 30, the case should fall within the jurisdiction of the ombudsman under Sandiganbayan law.

“Indisputably therefore, Mr. Faeldon, being an SG-30, belongs to a class of public officers whose alleged offenses, if any, are within the primary and exclusive jurisdiction of the OMB, for the purpose of preliminary investigation, and the Sandiganbayan, in the event an information is filed by the OMB, for trial on the merits,” read the motion.

“We want the cases to be filed at the right forum because later on if the regional trial court will dismiss this complaint because of lack of jurisdiction, it will be wasted,” he said after the hearing.

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Still, Faeldon welcomed the filing of the criminal charges by PDEA in the DOJ, saying it would give them an opportunity to clear themselves.

“We are confident that these charges will be dismissed because these are impossible allegations. They accuse us of conspiring to import drugs. How could anyone do that in four hours?” he pointed out.

“We welcome this so that the truth will come out and we will get justice,” he added.

Fake witness

Another respondent, former Customs Investigation and Intelligence Service chief Neil Anthony Estrella also appeared in the DOJ hearing and vowed to disprove the allegations of PDEA.

In a separate interview, Estrella also slammed the latest witness in the Senate inquiry whom he described as another “fake witness.”

He alleged that May Escoto, who appeared in the Senate hearing last Wednesday and claimed to be bagwoman of the BOC officials in the “tara” system, was a “pakawala” (lackey) by the camp of Customs fixer Mark Taguba in a bid to muddle the issue and weaken the drug charges against Taguba.

“She (Escoto) is a fake witness with close ties to the Taguba camp who they unleashed to destroy the credibility of the CIIS officials responsible for the drug raid,” Estrella told reporters.

“I know she is a BOC employee but she is not under my office. I have not talked to her since I’m busy most of the days and I have never given her any instruction,” he recalled. 

Estrella said they would file perjury, libel and other criminal cases against Taguba and Escoto because of the false testimonies against them.  

He bared that Escoto is the common-law wife of Ricky Carvajal, a bodyguard of the Tagubas and columnist in the Customs News newspaper. Mark admitted in the Senate hearings this is owned by their family.

He also showed copies of the Taguba newspaper and photos from the couple’s Facebook page, to prove the couple’s affiliation with the Tagubas. 

“This proves that May Escoto and Ricky Carvajal are surrogates of the Tagubas who have been peddling fake news to get Mark Taguba off the hook,” Estrella added.

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