DOJ junks PDEA motion: Faeldon won't be charged in P6.4-B shabu case

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the  Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and insisted that former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other customs officials will not be charged in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment case.

The DOJ prosecution panel denied the motion in a resolution on January 24, a copy of which was recently seen by Rappler. The matter is now on automatic review by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

“Clearly the cases filed illustrate and confirm that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) did not tolerate the felony committed by the said personalities; that they are not protecting or coddling the said offenders and that they have no part in the surreptitious importation of the subject drugs,” said the DOJ panel composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Aristotle Reyes and Rodan Parrocha. and Associate Prosecution Attorney Joan Garcia.

It was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Rassendel Rex Gingoyon and acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

Congress investigations

In its motion for reconsideration, PDEA said that the DOJ panel “deliberately suppressed the truth”  about the liability of Faeldon and other officials when the panel did not take in as evidence the revelations regarding the controversial shipment made at the Senate and House of Representatives.

The Senate blue ribbon committee has a partial report that recommends the filing of charges against Faeldon. The committee has sent Faeldon to the Pasay City Jail for contempt, as he still refuses to answer questions of the committee.

The DOJ panel stands firm that it is not its job to take judicial notice of the revelations made in the congressional inquiries.

“Judicial notice is a mandate to the courts or judges and not to prosecutors conducting preliminary investigation,” said the panel.

The panel cited their charges against fixer Mark Taguba and other Chinese middlemen, saying it is proof that the “BOC and NBI performed their duties under the given circumstances.”

They added: “If indeed, the BOC and NBI operatives were part of the conspiracy that facilitated the entry of drugs into the country, then respondent Chen Julong, Kenneth Dong, Fidel Anoche Dee, and the other respondents to the exclusion of respondent Taguba, should have already stated such fact in their sworn statements or even during the legislative committee investigation hearings where these personalities appeared.”

Chen Ju Long or Richard Chen was not included in the Manila court’s arrest warrant  as he has a pending motion to dismiss.

Dong, who was hastily arrested from inside the Senate as he was testifying, was jailed for rape charges. In November, the rape charges were dropped and Dong walked free.

Dong is included in the NBI manhunt. Taguba was denied detention at Camp Crame, as he petitions the court to let him stay in a more secure facility, saying an official wants him dead.

Proactive role

The panel said it is constrained to the evidence that PDEA presented to it, or the lack thereof.

“Complainant should not now blame this panel for the insufficiency of evidence they presented which failed to satisfy the burden of proving their case,” the panel said.

The DOJ usually takes a more proactive role in high-profile cases by ordering the NBI to conduct a thorough probe.

This did not happen in the shabu shipment case for lack of authorization at the time, as President Rodrigo Duterte had signed a memorandum which designated the PDEA as sole agency to implement the war on drugs.

But that memorandum has since been replaced, and Aguirre has restored the NBI’s investigative powers in the war on drugs.

Is the NBI now investigating the shabu shipment case? The DOJ told Rappler in January that the department was still studying whether to sign a department order for NBI to conduct a case buildup.

We asked the NBI this question in February but it did not provide a direct answer.

“The NBI revived our task force on anti-illegal drugs and they are conducting investigation and tracking down suspected drug users and pushers, and also drug laboratories but I cannot talk about the particulars of drug operations because this is being done by our task force on anti drugs,” said Vicente De Guzman, NBI’s Deputy Director for Investigation Service. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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