MANILA - The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Friday asserted that it provided the Department of Justice (DOJ) sufficient evidence to establish probable cause against several individuals the agency charged over the controversial P6.4-billion illegal drug shipment that slipped into the country in May.
In a 9-page reply affidavit, PDEA argued that those charged merely hinged on “denials and alibis” for their defense and raised issues of technicality in their counter-affidavits.
“Probable cause for the offenses charged has been sufficiently established by complainant, notwithstanding the alleged technical ‘flaws’ being pointed out by respondents… A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not, a crime has been committed by the suspects," PDEA’s reply affidavit read.
“It need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, not on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt,” it said.
The charges include conspiring to import illegal drugs and coddling drug traffickers, penalized under Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; graft; obstruction of justice; and negligence and tolerance, penalized under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.
Named respondents are resigned Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, former BOC Directors Milo Maestrecampo and Neil Anthony Estrella, intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente, Manila International Container Port District collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla, Customs employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor, and lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci.
Separate charges were filed for illegal drugs importation against businessman Chen Ju Long, also known as "Richard Tan" and "Richard Chen," owner of Hongfei Logistics Inc., the warehouse in Valenzuela City where the “shabu" shipment was seized, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong, Mark Taguba II, Teejay Marcellana, Emily Dee, Eirene May Tatad, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jyun, and Chen Rong Juan.
Meanwhile, Hong Fei Logistics officers Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual, and Mary Rose de la Cruz were charged for violations of Section 30 (criminal liability of officers of partnerships, corporations) of RA 9165.
The illegal importation became the subject of legislative investigations by the Senate and House of Representatives, where Faeldon and other customs officials have been accused of pocketing “tara” or bribes to clear the release of shipments.