MANILA - Senator Antonio Trillanes said Thursday he has asked the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to summon a Davao City councilor to its next hearing on the shipment of illegal drugs from China.
Trillanes wants Councilor Small Abellera in the next investigation to verify the existence of the so-called "Davao Group," which is being linked to corruption in the Bureau of Customs.
"The question is, why would a councilor from Davao City be dealing with some brokers? This Small Abellera is known in Davao City to be very close to Paolo Duterte," he told ANC's Early Edition, referring to the city vice mayor and eldest son of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Trillanes said both private broker Mark Taguba, who has been attending the Senate probe, and Customs Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala, a former classmate of his, validated the existence of the Davao Group.
The senator said 5 informants "working within Customs and those within the proximity of Customs operations" confirmed that "they’re well-aware of the Davao Group."
The group's earnings through corruption, alleged the senator, "would run into billions of pesos."
In the last Senate hearing on the shipment of P6.4-billion worth of shabu, Taguba said the younger Duterte was being "name-dropped" by individuals who paid "grease money" to Customs officials.
The individuals Taguba mentioned were "Tita Nani," "Jake," and "Small."
Trillanes said inviting Abellera would be helpful “so that we can trace and we can also test the credibility of Mr. Taguba.”
The Senate and the House of Representatives are separately investigating the shipment, which contained 600 kilograms of methamphetamine (shabu). It supposedly slipped past Customs' green lane, which has relatively relaxed security checks compared to the red and yellow lanes, last May.
Acting on a tip from China, authorities eventually found the drug shipment in a warehouse in Valenzuela City.
The Senate is set to resume its investigation next week.