THE Justice Department on Monday started its preliminary investigation of the drug-smuggling charges filed against three Filipino-Chinese businessmen and seven others in connection with the smuggling of a P6.4-billion shabu shipment seized in May.
Dong Yi Shen alias Kenneth Dong appeared and submitted his counter-affidavit denying the charges he is importing illegal drugs.
He was earlier arrested by National Bureau of Investigation agents over a rape case and is now detained in the Parañaque City jail.
Another respondent, importer Eirene May Tatad, also denied knowledge of the shipment containing 605 transparent plastic bags of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
Three other respondents”•Filipino-Chinese businessman Chen Ju Long alias Richard Chen and customs brokers Mark Ruben Taguba II and Teejay Marcellana”•either appeared in the hearing or sent their lawyers but did not submit answers.
As a result, Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes gave them more time to file their counter-affidavits in the next hearing on Sept. 25.
Reyes said the rest of the respondents who failed to appear before the hearing”•Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li and Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun”•had lost their opportunity to answer the charges, and that the complaint against them had already been considered submitted for resolution.
Taguba’s lawyer Raymond Fortun questioned the complaint filed by the NBI for being incomplete.
“In this particular complaint, the person from 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 said.
Chen had tapped Li to process the release of the shipment that was 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 on contracted Taguba, who has been testifying in the congressional inquiries about the drug-smuggling case, and Marcellana as brokers.
Tatad owns EMT Trading, which was used by the brokers as importer or consignee for the shipment.
Chen (Min) and Jhu were identified by Chinese authorities as the real owners of the shipment. Their alleged local contact, Fidel Dee, was arrested by authorities.
Li, Dong and Taguba were also charged with unauthorized practice of customs broker profession under Republic Act 9280 after it was found they did not have a license from Customs.
The drug shipment arrived at the Bureau of Customs on May 17 and was released from the port on May 23.