MANILA -- A former official of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday slammed the charges filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against him and 11 others in connection with the entry of the PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu into the country in May.
“This is not something we can ignore. Our lives are at stake here. These are very serious allegations based on lies,” Col. Neil Anthony Estrella, former head of BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service (BOC-CIIS) said in a press briefing.
Estrella said he is set to file a counter-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday seeking the dismissal of the said charges.
Estrella, along with former BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon and 10 other Customs officials have been charged with graft, conspiracy to import illegal drugs and coddling drug traffickers which are violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and negligence and tolerance for allegedly facilitating the escape of the persons behind the drug shipment -- a violation of Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.
Other named respondents in the complaint are: former BOC Import Assessment Services (IAS) Director Milo Maestrecampo; intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente; Manila International Container Port district collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla; Faeldon's fiancé, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci; and BOC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.
Estrella said he would go into hiding if the DOJ would find probable cause to indict him before the trial court for the said charges.
“These are non-bailable offenses. I don’t intend to spend my life in jail for the things I did not even commit,” Estrella said.
The PDEA complaint has been consolidated with the drug smuggling complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against the importers and brokers of the shipment, which is already undergoing preliminary investigation before the DOJ.
The NBI complaint named as respondents businessman Dong Yi Shen alias “Kenneth Dong” Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun, both Taiwanese nationals; Chinese nationals Chen Ju Long alias “Richard Tan” or “Richard Chen,” chairman of general manager of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Inc., and Li Guang Feng, alias “Manny Li”; customs brokers Mark Ruben Taguba II and Teejay Marcellana; and Eirene Mae Agustino Tatad, the sole proprietor of EMT Trading which was identified as the consignee for the shabu shipment that was declared as general merchandise and its content was certified by China’s Customs.
They are facing charges of importation of dangerous drugs under Section 4 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The respondents in the PDEA complaint have already been subpoenaed by the DOJ to appear in the preliminary investigation before its panel of prosecutors on October 5. (with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)