DOJ wraps up probe on BOC shabu shipment

By Edu Punay

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday concluded its preliminary investigation on the drug smuggling charges filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) against businessman Richard Tan and eight other accused in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment seized in May last year.

Assistant State Prosecutor Charles Guhit closed the hearings after the BOC submitted its memorandum insisting on criminal charges against the respondents.

The BOC sought the indictment of Tan and other respondents, saying there was “competent and convincing” circumstantial evidence to prove conspiracy to import the P6.4-billion shabu from China into the country.

“Clearly, respondents can be held liable as co-conspirators, financiers, facilitators and/ or principals, either by direct participation, indispensable cooperation and/or inducement,” the bureau alleged.

“Since by its nature, conspiracy is planned in utmost secrecy, it can seldom be proved by direct evidence. Consequently, competent and convincing circumstantial evidence will suffice to establish conspiracy,” it stressed.

Tan, whose real name is Chen Ju Long, is the chairman and general manager of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Inc. that owns the warehouse in Valenzuela City where the 604 kilograms of shabu were discovered last May 26. 

Apart from Tan, the other respondents in the BOC case are businessmen Kenneth Dong and Manny Li, customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba and Teejay Marcellana,Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun, warehouseman Fidel Anoche Dee and trader Eirene Mae Tatad.

Tan and Dong had earlier tried to leave the country, but were both prevented by immigration officers at the airport as they are subjects of lookout bulletin order and did not have the necessary allow departure order from the DOJ.

The respondents were already indicted by the DOJ before the Valenzuela City regional trial court for violations of Republic Act 9165 based on drug charges filed by PDEA in connection with the same drug shipment. 

The court, however, dismissed the case due to lack of jurisdiction. The DOJ has appealed the ruling.   

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