MANILA - A witness who claimed to be a broker in a shipment containing P6.4 billion worth of shabu named a certain Richard Tan as the man behind the dispatch.
Mark Taguba told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that Tan is a businessman who owns Hongfei, a company that consolidates shipments from China and has a warehouse in Valenzuela City.
Drawing a diagram on a whiteboard, Taguba explained that Tan, through his company, consolidates various goods that are meant to be sent to the Philippines.
These consolidated goods from different owners may include the cylinders that contained the illegal drugs, Taguba said.
The witness said Tan passed on the package list to a middleman identified as Kenneth Dong, who in turn looked for a broker who could hire a Manila-based consignee for the shipment.
He said he, along with consignee Eirene Mae Tatad, had no knowledge of the contraband inside the shipment. He said Tan should know who owns the cylinders and who are its recipients.
"Dahil iba-iba po ang may-ari, iba-iba rin po ang pagdedeliveran nito. Siya rin po ang nakakakilala kung sino ang nagpararing ng cylinders, si Richard Tan po. Siya rin po ang nakakakilala kung sino ang tatanggap," he said.
He also said that he did not know Tan personally because he thought his client was Dong. "Ang point ko lang po dito, meron talagang nag-process ng drugs na 'yun," he said.
Taguba pointed out that he was looking for CCTV footage of his men unloading the shipment in the warehouse but he was told the the cameras were broken, raising his suspicion.
Hearing the allegations, Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon requested the National Bureau of Investigation to issue a hold departure order on Tan.
Gordon also summoned Tan and Dong to the Senate probe to shed light on the claims made by Taguba."
Meanwhile, before Taguba bared the role of Tan in the shipment, Senator Panfilo Lacson flashed a photo before the screen. Taguba positively identified the man in the photo as Tan.
The Chinese businessman is seen in the photo with Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and Customs Intelligence chief Neil Estrella.
Faeldon and Estrella confirmed that the photo with Tan was taken in the warehouse where the seizure of the billions worth of illegal drugs were made.
The Customs chief said he was sitting in a small office in the warehouse when an interpreter approached him and asked for a photo.
"I do not know the intention. I was sitting in that office, a small office in that warehouse, their interpreter approach me and said, "Commissioner, puwede po bang magpa-picture,'" he said.
Estrella for his part said the photo with Customs officials was a request by China to Tan to assure them that he is in good hands.
"It was a request to [Mr. Tan]. Initially they wanted a live video, Skype with me, but the internet connection [was bad]," Estrella told Senator Gordon.