By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara has assured that he will seek the reversal of the decision of a Valenzuela City court which dismissed the charges against those involved in the 2017 smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs.
“We do not agree with the ruling of the Valenzuela judge that the prosecution committed forum shopping and we intend to seek a reconsideration of his order,” Guevara said today.
“If need be, we shall bring this matter to a superior court,” he added.
Recently, Veaenzuela City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 284 Presiding Judge Arthur Melicor granting the motion of three defendants—customs fixer Mark Taguba II, businessman Richard Chen, and Teejay Marcellana–to dismiss the drug transportation and delivery case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against them.
“Filing a case for importation in Manila after the court in Valenzuela City has dismissed an earlier case for importation for lack of jurisdiction, and then filing another case, this time for transportation, before this court involving the same accused and based on the same facts, issues and arguments, clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping,” the court’s decision read.
The ruling noted that forum shopping is the institution of two or more actions with same parties and cause of action on the belief that either one of the courts would rule a favorable disposition.
Aside from Taguba, Chen and Marcellana, the other defendants in the case included Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong, Eirene Mae Tatad, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jhun and Chen Rong Huan.
In November, Valenzuela RTC Branch 180 Judge Nena Santos also dismissed the drug importation charges against the nine accused due to lack of jurisdiction.
The drug importation case has been refiled and is now pending before the Manila RTC.
Meanwhile, Guevara believes that the recent decision of the Valenzuela court will not affect the case at the Manila RTC.
“The dismissal of the Valenzuela case for transporting illegal drugs has no bearing whatsoever on the pending cases in Manila for illegal importation of dangerous drugs,” he said.
“Those two cases are distinct from each other and are based on different provisions of the dangerous drugs law,” Guevara explained.