Faeldon seeks dismissal of raps over P6.4-b shabu
Former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon sought for the dismissal of the criminal complaint filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency against him and other Customs officials before the Department of Justice in connection with the P6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment which he said was based on hearsay and fabrication of an alleged lackey of Senator Panfilo Lacson.
In a joint memorandum, Faeldon and his co-respondent fiancé, lawyer Jelina Maree Magsuci, urged the DoJ’s investigating panel to drop the charges against them, impugning the probative value of the testimony of PDEA agent Norman Balquiedra, who filed the complaint before the DoJ and accused them of conspiracy for the smuggling of the 604 kilos of illegal drugs.
Faeldon and Magsuci described Balquiedra as another “Odong Mahusay” of Lacson.
“In August 2003, a certain Udong Mahusay surfaced and gave highly-damaging information, reduced in an affidavit no less, against [former] First Gentleman Mike Arroyo,” Faeldon said, in his memorandum.
“The Philippine Senate and the media were taken for a ride, for a few months later, Mahusay made an about-face and recanted his affidavit. He thereafter charged his “handler” Senator Panfilo Lacson, of coercing him to execute his affidavit against FG Arroyo,” the former BOC chief added.
According to Faeldon, Senator Lacson is the patron of ex-PDEA officer Wilkins Villanueva, the former head of PDEA’s National Capital Region Police Office, where this Balquiedra was formerly assigned.
“It was also Senator Lacson who actively lobbied for Villanueva to be transferred to the very juicy position of BoC CIIS [Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service]director,” he alleged.
Former CIIS director, former Marine Col. Neil Anthony Estrella, is also named as a respondent in the PDEA complaint.
The PDEA complaint stemmed from the discovery of 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “shabu,” found on May 26 during a raid of a warehouse of Hongfei Logistics in Valenzuela City.
The shabu shipment managed to enter the country through the BoC after being declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings.
During the Senate inquiry over the shabu shipment, Lacson and Faeldon have exchanged accusations of committing graft and corruption.
Under the PDEA complaint filed before the DOJ, Faeldon and co-respondents were accused of conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting or coddling of drug traffickers in violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Apart from the drug charges, Faeldon and other respondents are also accused of obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829 for harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of the persons behind the drug shipment; for negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code; and for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Faeldon said the DOJ should dismiss the complaint against him and his fiancé since Balquiedra’s September 18 reply-affidavit filed before the DOJ showed the allegations are based on mere hearsay.
“Complainant Balquiedra’s candid admission in his reply-affidavit that all of the allegations in his complaint-affidavit are hearsay, is the final nail in the coffin of the above-captioned complaint,” Faeldon argued, in seeking the dismissal of the drug cases against them.
“Such admission, is not even true, for this Balquiedra’s allegations are not just hearsay but in fact double hearsay as well as the products of his fertile imagination,” he said. “It has long been settled in jurisprudence, that double hearsay does not deserve even a slightest consideration.”
Besides Faeldon, Magsuci, and Estrella, also named respondents to the PDEA drug complaint include former Customs officials Milo Maestrecampo, Joel Pinawin, Oliver Valiente, Vincent Philip Maronilla, Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansang, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo, and John Edillor.
Customs importers, brokers, and warehouse owners—including Taguba, Chen, Dong, Chen Rong Huan, Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual, Mary Rose dela Cruz, Li Guang Feng (alias Manny Li), Teejay Apostol Marcellana, Eirene Mae Tatad, Emily Anoche Dee, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jyun, John Doe, Jane Doe, and Richard Doe—are facing charges of importing and selling illegal drugs.
On Wednesday, the DOJ concluded its preliminary investigation on the criminal complaints lodged against Faeldon and 37 others in connection with the P6.4-billion shabu shipment.
The investigating panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes terminated the proceedings and submitted for resolution the string of illegal drug complaints filed by the PDEA.
Estrella, in a chance interview, said he was confident that the panel would vindicate him and the other BOC officials.
“We are innocent. They can’t even articulate their points in their complaint. We feel vindicated at this point,” Estrella said.
The PDEA complaint has been submitted for resolution.