By Jeffrey Damicog
Customs broker Mark Taguba was returned to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila for detention Tuesday night.
“Dito lang po siya sa NBI (He will be staying here at the NBI in the meantime) until further orders from the court,” said NBI Public Information Chief Nickanor Suarez.
Taguba was supposed to be transferred to the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame based on the commitment order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46.
However, the PNP turned down the transfer as it cited a 2010 circular issued by the Supreme Court’s (SC) Office of the Administrator (OCA) which ordered the courts to refrain from detaining prisoners at PNP facilities and, instead, detain them in facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Last January 31, the NBI served an arrest warrant on Taguba and took him from the Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms (OSSA) where he has been held under protective custody.
The Manila RTC issued arrest warrants after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed last January 24 a case against Taguba and eight others for importation of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 4, in relation to Section 26 (a) of Republic Act (RA) 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Apart from Taguba, those who had been named as accused were Chen Julong, alias Richard Tan or Richard Chen; Eirene Mae Tatad; Li Guang Feng, alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen Xi, alias Kenneth Dong; Teejay Marcellana; Chen I-Min; Jhu Ming Jhun; and Chen Rong Huan.
The Manila RTC issued arrest warrants to only eight of the accused and not to Richard Tan due to a pending motion for determination of probable cause which sought to dismiss the case against him.
Apart from the Manila RTC, the DOJ also filed another case against the nine before the Valenzuela City RTC for transportation and delivery of dangerous drugs under Section 5 of RA 9165.
Under the cases now filed before the Manila and Valenzuela RTCs, the nine defendants are accused of having conspired in bringing into the country 602.279 kilograms of shabu.
The cases stemmed from the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) discovery of the shabu shipment at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 26, 2017, following a a tip from the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the China Customs.
The shabu shipment managed to enter the country through the BOC after being declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings.