Valenzuela court drops drug raps vs Taguba
This time, the dismissal was due to forum shopping and “glaringly devoid” drug delivery charges.
Geremy Pintolo
Valenzuela court drops drug raps vs Taguba
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - May 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — For the second time, a Valenzuela court has dismissed the illegal drug charges filed against Customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba and two other respondents in a case involving the smuggling of shabu worth P6.4 billion from China.

This time, the dismissal was due to forum shopping and  “glaringly devoid” drug delivery charges.

In a resolution dated April 23 but released to the media only yesterday, Judge Arthur Melicor of the Valenzuela Regional Trial Court Branch 284 granted the motions to dismiss filed by Taguba, businessman Richard Tan and Teejay Marcellana.

The case stemmed from the alleged sale, trade, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution or transportation of illegal drugs as provided under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

The court said the government prosecutors resorted to forum shopping when it split the criminal information into two – drug importation and delivery – which it filed in two separate courts in Manila and Valenzuela.

After a drug importation case was filed and later junked by the Valenzuela RTC Branch 171, the same case was refiled at the Manila RTC Branch 46, which ordered the arrest of the respondents.

State prosecutors filed a separate case for drug transportation before the Valenzuela court, which the respondents described as forum shopping.

“Filing a case for importation in Manila after the court in Valenzuela City dismissed an earlier case for importation for lack of jurisdiction, and then filing another case – this time for transportation involving the same accused and based on the same facts, issues and arguments – clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping,” the court said.

The judge agreed with the respondents that double jeopardy was committed when the information was split into two, although it arose from the same set of offense.

The court said the case of drug delivery was absorbed under the alleged importation case.

It gave weight to the respondents’ arguments that no preliminary investigation was conducted by the prosecution on the case.

Except for Taguba who allegedly owned the truck that transported the van containing the cylinders of shabu, the court said none of the accused were present or involved in the transportation and delivery of the contraband.

While the drug transport case was dismissed against the three respondents, warehouse caretaker Fidel Anochee Dee will face trial on May 9 for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

Dee was implicated in the case because one of the crates containing 100 kilograms of shabu was addressed to him.

Taguba has been detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, while Tan and his other co-accused who are Chinese or Taiwanese nationals have yet to be arrested.

This developed as the Office of the Ombudsman ordered a preliminary investigation for graft and usurpation of official functions on resigned customs chief now Office of the Civil Defense deputy administrator Nicanor Faeldon for allegedly botching the seizure of the drug shipment during a raid at the Valenzuela warehouse.

The ombudsman cleared  President Duterte’s son Paolo and son-in-law Manases Carpio of allegations that they were the brains behind the drug smuggling.

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