SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday described the draft report on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China being routed by Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon as a mere cover-up.
Trillanes expressed dismay that while poor Filipinos are being killed allegedly because of their links to illegal drugs, those allegedly behind the entry of the multibillion-peso shabu from China into the country is not being held answerable before the law.
"Suspected drug pushers and users are wantonly killed in the streets while the people behind the illegal drug smuggling are merely subjected to a lifestyle check. This is a clear case of cover-up by Senator Richard Gordon to please his political master," Trillanes said.
It was Trillanes who linked presidential son Paolo "Pulong" Duterte and the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, lawyer Manases "Mans" Carpio, to shabu smuggling, citing the existence of the Davao Group that peddled influence for the easy release of shipments from the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Carpio and Paolo were summoned only once in the Senate hearing into the shabu smuggling. The two denied the accusations hurled against them.
The draft blue ribbon committee report absolved the presidential son and his brother-in-law in the P6.4-billion smuggling of shabu from Xiamen, China.
"No evidence was established to connect the two to the smuggling of drugs or other contraband through our Bureau of Customs (BOC)," the draft committee report said.
"If Senator Gordon is really serious in getting to the bottom of this mess, then he should not terminate the hearing and clear Paolo Duterte of involvement until Nanie Cabato-Coronacion aka Tita Nanie is located," Trillanes insisted.
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson expressed serious reservations on the draft Senate blue ribbon committee report.
"I have not signed it. Instead, I am submitting my comments/observations to the chairman. I expressed my serious reservations on the findings contained in the committee report being routed, particularly in the matter of (Nicanor) Faeldon, (Neil) Estrella and (Joel) Pinawin. Chairman Gordon said he will make an addendum once he received my comments," Lacson, vice chair of the Senate blue ribbon panel, said.
Lacson who filed a graft case against former BOC Chief Nicanor Faeldon maintained that those who should be held answerable must face the full force of the law.
"Kulang ang findings and the recommendation of Chairman Richard Gordon are not consistent with what was discussed, not only during the hearings but in the committee report itself," Lacson said.
In the same committee report, the blue ribbon recommended the filing of charges against Faeldon, former BOC director Neil Estrella, Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala, intelligence offer Joel Pinawin, director Milo Maestrecampo, and Larribert Hilario.
Charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs act were also recommended to be filed against Chinese businessmen Richard Tan, Manny Li, and Kenneth Dong, fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II, Eirene Mae Tatad of EMT trading, Davao City Councilor Nilo Abellera, and broker Teejay Marcellana.
In the same report, Gordon recommended that the National Bureau of Investigation conduct lifestyle checks on Carpio and the Davao City vice mayor.
"Implicating persons on mere hearsay was rigorously avoided. But, your committee did not hesitate to summon when a connection or implication was made of certain personalities, based on personal knowledge, even if the supposed personal knowledge was determined later to be a mistaken one," Gordon said.
The report also tagged Richard Tan, owner of the raided warehouse in Valenzuela City, as the one "ultimately responsible" for the smuggling of the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.
"The committee finds that the ultimate responsibility for the importation of these illegal drugs fall squarely on the shoulders of
(Tan) as the owner of Hong Fei Logistics," it said.
The committee recommended further investigation on the activities of businessman Kenneth Dong, who the panel noted, loves to have his picture taken with influential personalities in a possible bid to expand his political and business contacts.
The panel also recommended that fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II be charged for corrupting Customs officials, violating the drugs act, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, and Presidential Decree 1829 for obstructing the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders. (SunStar Philippines)