MANILA — Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Thursday appeared before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the preliminary investigation of charges filed against him and 11 other customs officials by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) over the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment seized in two warehouses in Valenzuela City last May 26.
During the hearing, Faeldon filed a motion before the panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes to dismiss the complaint filed against him because it is the Office of the Ombudsman — and not the DOJ – which has jurisdiction to investigate him.
In a motion submitted to the DOJ, Faeldon cited the Sandiganbayan Law, saying that for an official to be under its jurisdiction, the following requisites must exist: the public officer or employee occupies the position corresponding to salary grade (SG) 27; and the crime is committed by the public officer or employee in relation to his office.
“Indisputably therefore, Mr. Faeldon, being an SG-30, belongs to a class of public officers whose alleged offenses, if any, are within the primary and exclusive jurisdiction of the OMB, for the purpose of preliminary investigation, and the Sandiganbayan, in the event an Information is filed by the OMB, for trial on the merits,” the motion added.
However, Faeldon assured that they would continue to cooperate with the DOJ investigation.
“We are not questioning. We are clarifying because other cases filed is sa Ombudsman. Ang reason ay
“We were just trying to clarify sino ba talaga may jurisdiction. (We want to clarify who really has the jurisdiction.) Pero if the DOJ rules otherwise (But if the DOJ rules otherwise, we will also welcome it. We will continue to attend the hearing sa DOJ,” he noted.
At the same time, he said he is confident the case would be eventually junked.
He said he has done nothing wrong, much less conspire to import illegal drugs.
“Kalokohan naman yun. (That is nonsense.) That is why we welcome this to get the justice. Ang kinaso sa akin, conspiring to import drugs. (They sued me for conspiring to import drugs.) Medyo napakagaling mo naman, in four hours, you can conspire. (You must be good if you can conspire in four hours.) Isang imposibleng allegation (An impossible allegation),” he added.
The panel of prosecutors gave the PDEA five days to comment on Faeldon’s motion and set Oct. 19 as the deadline for the respondents to file their respective counter-affidavits.
Faeldon and 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; Faeldon‘s fiancé, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci; and BOC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor were accused of conspiring to import illegal drugs and coddling drug traffickers under Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
They were also charged with obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829 by “harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape” of the persons behind the shabu shipment, as well as negligence under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.
The PDEA also charged them with violation of the Anti-Graft Law for allegedly “causing any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”
In the same complaint, the PDEA filed illegal drug importation charges under RA 9165 against alleged importers and facilitators of the shabu shipment – Chen Ju Long, Chen Rong Juan, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong, Mark Taguba II, Teejay Marcellana, Eirene May Tatad, Emily Dee, Chen I-Min and Jhu Ming Jyun.
It also included in the charge sheet the directors and officers of Hong Fei Logistics Inc., the warehouse where the shabu shipment was seized – Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual and Mary Rose dela Cruz.
PDEA’s complaint is separate from the complaint for drug smuggling filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against the importers and brokers of the shipment, which is already undergoing preliminary investigation before the DOJ.
The two separate complaints have been consolidated by the DOJ. PNA-northboundasia.com