Once again, we are seeing proof of the saying that truth will find its way out, however one tries to block it.
We are referring to the Paolo Duterte-Charlie Tan drug connection.
Paolo is the son of President Duterte and is the vice-mayor of Davao City. Charlie Tan, according to news reports, is a Taiwanese businessman who does a lot of business in Davao.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s privilege speech last Wednesday on the corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was indeed explosive. As Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said, Lacson’s speech “has exposed more actionable information regarding corruption in BOC compared to Sen. Richard Gordon’s endless hours of monologue and one-man show hearings.”
Lacson showed the corruption network, the current payola/tara practice, and he named names. Included in his list of “alleged bribe givers or ‘players’” is “Charlie Tan of Davao Group.”
In the earlier hearings of the Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Gordon on the 604 kilos of shabu worth P6.4 billion that was able to slip through the Customs, [private] broker Mark Taguba talked of the “Davao Group” that he had to connect with in order that his importations would not be flagged down and instead breeze through the customs without inspection.
The name of Paolo Duterte or Pulong came up. Taguba even showed a text message from a customs fixer he only identified as “Tita Nani” saying a P5-million fee is needed to “enrol” into the Davao group.
Taguba said he flew to Davao and delivered the P5 million enrolment fee to Davao City Councilor Noli “Small” Abellera, known to be a close friend of Paolo. Taguba said, once enrolled in the Davao group, he continued giving P10,000 per container or about P1 million weekly for 100 containers to another member of the group named “Jack.”
Lacson’s privilege speech did not mention Paolo Duterte. However, the inclusion of the name Charlie Tan led us to recall the testimony of former Davao Death Squad member and now retired SPO4 Arturo Lascañas last March 6 where he related an incident involving Paolo and Charlie Tan.
Lascañas said, sometime between late 2013 and early 2014, Paolo told him about a delayed shipment of furniture and other items he imported from China. He said the container van also included the belongings of a certain Charlie Tan and that there’s information that Tan had placed drugs in the container van.
Paolo instructed him to tail the van when it arrives, deliver it to the village hall of Barangay Catalunan Grande, and arrest Tan if the shipment yields drugs. Lascañas did what he was told to do.
However, when the van arrived in Davao City and he was on his way to intercept the alleged hot cargo, Paolo called him up saying, "Arbor ko na lang, bro. Ako na ang bahala kay Charlie." (Leave it to me. I'll take care of Charlie.)
Lascañas said, although he never knew if drugs were found in the
van, he was disappointed that [Paolo] Duterte intervened with the operation to entrap Tan.
The whole testimony of Lascañas during that March 6 hearing conducted by Lacson’s Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs was dismissed by the senator as not enough evidence to prove that the Davao Death Squad (DDS) by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte existed. It must be mentioned that in the first appearance of Lascañas at the Senate in October 2016, he denied the existence of the DDS.
Lacson’s exposé last week got diverted by former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon’s own exposé about alleged cement smuggling by the senator’s son, Pampi Lacson. It’s a different issue which should be investigated. But it should not be made to cover up the truth about the Davao Group’s hand in the corruption in the Bureau of Customs.
We should not forget that the Taguba’s 604-kilo shipment of shabu passed through Customs without inspection because of the “Davao group.” That’s only one shipment. How many more kilos of illegal drugs got passed Customs because they were facilitated by the Davao group?
Let’s also not forget that more than 3,000 have been killed in police operations in President Duterte’s indiscriminate campaign against illegal drugs. Last Saturday, we buried 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.
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