By Jeffrey Damicog
Suspected Chinese drug lord Jacky Co and 16 of his co-respondents have until July 10 to respond to the criminal complaints filed against them for their alleged involvement in the smuggling of P1.8-billion worth of illegal drugs which were discovered last March.
The panel of prosecutors handling the case gave the respondents the opportunity to file their counter-affidavits after none of them were able to do so on the scheduled hearing last July 5.
Despite the subpoenas issued by the panel, chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Clarisa Kuong, to appear on July 5, only one of the respondents, Jane Abello Castillo, came and sought more time to file a counter-affidavit.
Thus, the panel began conducting the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against all 17 respondents including Xu Zhi Jian alias Jacky Co and Castillo.
In its complaint, the PDEA accused the respondents of violation of Section 4 (Importation of Dangerous Drugs), in relation to Section 31 (Additional Penalty if Offender is an Alien) of Republic Act.A. No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, as amended by R.A. No. 10640.
Aside from Co aand Castillo, the other respondents were Dong An Dong, Julie Hao Gam boa, Fe Tamayosa, Alvin Bautista, Carlo Dale T. Zueta, Abraham G. Torecampo, Arwin P. Caparros, Leonardo S. Su caldito, and Mark Leo D. Magpayo, Brian Pabilona, Meldy Sayson, Rhea Tolosa, Edgardo Dominado, Jerry Siguenza, and Debbie Joy Aceron.
The officers and directors of Wealth Lotus Empire Corporation and Fortuneyield Cargo Services were also accused of illegal importation in relation to Section 30 (Criminal Liability of Officers of Partnerships, Corporations, Associations or other Juridical Entities) of R.A. No. 9165 as amended by R.A. No. 10640.
On March 22, joint government operatives, led by the PDEA, acted on a tip from their counterparts from Vietnam and conducted an interdiction operation at Manila International Container Port – Container Freight Station 3 (MICP-CFS3).
The operation resulted in the confiscation of 276,344.82 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known shabu concealed in sacks of plastic resin worth P1,876,800,000.