By Ria Fernandez
A regional trial court (RTC) in Manila adjourned on Tuesday the hearing of the P6.4-billion drug shipment case filed against customs fixer Mark Taguba and 11 others after the latter failed to show up.
Presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Manila RTC branch 46 waited for Taguba, who is detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, for over an hour to appear on the setting at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 23.
It was supposedly the first day of the series of trials on the drug smuggling case, where the prosecution was scheduled to present former Customs Intelligence and Investigation Chief Col. Neil Estrella, among others.
However, it was learned that the jail warden in charge of Taguba thought that the setting was scheduled at 1:30 p.m. despite the court’s produce order.
With this, a show cause order will be issued by the court to seek explanation from the jail warden, Montesa said.
The next hearing will be on Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
In Manila RTC branch 21, Taguba and co-respondents are also facing a separate case for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Eirene Tatad, owner of EMT Trading, pleaded not guilty during yesterday’s arraignment.
On the part of Fidel Anoche Dee, no plea was entered as he appeared without a lawyer.
Taguba meanwhile filed a motion to suspend arraignment due to the pending Justice Department’s petition for review.
Mark Taguba misses first day of trial on P6.4-B drug shipment case in Manila court