Davao City exec, 'Big Brother' among bribe takers in Customs mess - broker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2017 02:30 PM

Sen. Richard Gordon speaks with customs broker Mark Taguba (L) during the Senate probe on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment intercepted by authorities. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

WHO'S WHO IN 'TARA' TRADE: Customs broker Mark Taguba on Tuesday named more officials who allegedly pocket grease money in exchange for letting shipments with illicit drugs and contraband slip past port inspections. 

Taguba, during a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, said he gave millions of pesos in bribes to Davao City Councilor Small Abellera, a certain General Capuyan known as "Big Brother," and members of an alleged "Davao Group." 

Below is a summary of how Taguba met the allegedly corrupt officials. 

'TITA NANI' AND 'JOJO' 

Taguba said he sought the help of a certain "Tita Nani" and "Jojo" sometime in January when the Bureau of Customs (BOC) issued alert orders for his shipments. 

Taguba said he met Jojo through his father, former Piat, Cagayan Vice Mayor Ruben Taguba. The broker said he could not confirm reports that Jojo was a former councilor in Piat. 

Jojo, he said, worked at the BOC Special Studies and Project Development Committee and was close to former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who was relieved from his post on Monday.

BOC officials said a certain Jojo Tacub was working in the agency, but have yet to verify if he was the same man tagged by Taguba.

Taguba said Jojo introduced her to Nani who was "influential" in the BOC. 

The broker said the Nani he knew was not Nani Kho, acting chief of the BOC Auction and Cargo Monitoring Division who was also present at Tuesday's hearing. 

SMALL ABELLERA AND 'JACK' 

Taguba said Tita Nani and Jojo, in turn, arranged his meeting with Councilor Abellera in Davao City. 

He claimed that he gave Abellera a one-time "enrollment fee" of P5 million in cash. 

For the next 3 months, Taguba said he paid P10,000 for every container that passed port inspections. He said he handed the fee every Friday to a certain "Jack." 

"Every week po nagbibigay ako kay Jack, lilipad siya dito sa Maynila. Ibibigay ko sa kanya iyung ire-remit ko. Babalik siya ulit ng Davao. Every Friday po iyun," he said. 

(Every week, I would give the money to Jack. He would fly to Manila, I would remit the money and he would fly back to Davao. That happened every Friday.)

Taguba added that he trusted Abellera and Jack on the assumption that they were close with the President's son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte. 

"Iyun po ang sabi nila," Taguba said. (That's what they told me.)

Abellera did not attend Tuesday's hearing. President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has said earlier that he would resign from office if any of his children is proven corrupt. 

'BIG BROTHER' 

Taguba said his transactions with the "Davao group" went well for 3 months until the BOC again issued alerts for his shipments. 

"Ang hinala ko, hindi na nila nare-remit, hindi na nakakarating ang pera," he said. 

(I suspect they were no longer able to remit the money, money no longer reached [the authorities].)

Taguba said Tita Nani came to his rescue again, this time introducing him to another group led by "Noel" and a Colonel Allen Capuyan with the alias "Big Brother." 

Capuyan, he said, sent him an e-mail containing tariff codes that would give him access to the green lane, where shipments undergo minimal inspection. 

Taguba said he remained with Capuyan's group until the Senate and House of Representatives launched separate inquiries into the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu through the Manila port in May.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will invite to the next hearings the officials Taguba tagged during his testimony, said panel chair Sen. Richard Gordon. 

Gordon also sought help from the National Bureau of Investigation to verify the identities of the personalities Taguba named during the hearing. 

-- Report from Trishia Billones, Katrina Domingo and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News