Ombudsman creates panel to probe P6.4-billion smuggled shabu
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After congressional inquiries and a complaint filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Ombudsman is joining the government effort to investigate who's accountable for the P6.4-billion worth of shabu shipment smuggled to the Philippines from China last May.
Because it's the Office of the Ombudsman, public officials take front and center in this investigation.
"The release was allegedly facilitated by public officials who were identified as members of the 'Davao Group' by Customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba II," the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement on Tuesday, November 7.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the creation of a panel to conduct a fact-finding investigation.
"The order of the Ombudsman is in line with the President's recent pronouncement for independent agencies to investigate the matter," the office said.
The public officials facing a complaint before the DOJ so far are:
- Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
- BOC director Milo Maestrecampo
- BOC director Neil Anthony Estrella
- BOC Intelligence officer Joel Pinawin
- BOC intelligence officer Oliver Valiente
- Manila International Container Port district collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla
- BOC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo, and John Edillor
Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV linked Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte to the so-called Davao Group, but the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is poised to clear him according to a draft report by chairman Richard Gordon. (READ: Here's what else was in Taguba's text messages on Customs)
Gordon is instead recommending a lifestyle check on Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio, the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and Morales' nephew.
Taguba and the rest of the private individuals involved in the smuggling are also facing drug complaints before the DOJ.
Trillanes to submit report to Ombudsman
In a press conference on Tuesday, Trillanes said he will submit his own report to the Ombudsman regarding the shabu shipment.
His report, he said, will include evidence they gathered from the Senate hearings about the involvement of the so-called "Davao Group,” particularly presidential son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
"Ako naniniwala na ang utak diyan sa importation na 'yan ay si Mr Paolo Duterte, kaya isa-submit ko ito at para maisama sa investigation ng Ombudsman at I'm confident na hindi 'yan comite de absuwelto kagaya noong committee ni Senator Gordon,” Trillanes explained.
(I believe the mastermind of that importation is Mr Paolo Duterte, that’s why I’m going to submit this so it can be included in the investigation of the Ombudsman, and I’m confident that will not be a committee of absolution, unlike the committee of Senator Richard Gordon.)
The senator said he will not allow the report from Gordon’s blue ribbon committee to pass at the plenary level.
"I will interpellate at papamukha ko sa mga kasamahan ko na talagang ito ay cover-up ni Senator Gordon para ma-please 'yung kanyang political master na si Mr Duterte,” said Trillanes.
Trillanes said he will submit to the Ombudsman “authenticated documents” that include transcripts, pictures, and other pertinent information. – With reports from Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler.com