MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) would appeal the Valenzuela Regional Trial Court (RTC) decision which dismissed the drug charges filed against nine persons, including Chinese businessman Chen Julong, alias Richard Tan, and customs broker Mark Taguba, in connection with the PHP6.4-billion shipment of illegal drugs last year.
We will file a motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal in the Valenzuela case (for transport of illegal drugs). There is no forum-shopping involved because transporting illegal drugs is a distinct act from importation (the case in RTC-Manila). The act of importation ends at the customs area. Transporting the drugs to Valenzuela is a separate act punishable under a different provision of the dangerous drugs law, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message to Philippine News Agency on Sunday.
Guevarra was referring to Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 284 Judge Arthur Melicor's decision which granted the motion of three defendants -- customs fixer Mark Taguba II, businessman Richard Chen, and Teejay Marcellana -- to dismiss the drug transportation and delivery case filed by the DOJ against them.
Melicor said the prosecution's move clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping and betray [their] intent to secure favorable judgment from different courts.
Forum shopping happens when a case is filed in two separate courts in hopes that one of them will rule favorably.
Melicor said that the state prosecutors have filed a drug importation case before a Manila court -- with the same set of accused and based on same arguments-- after it was earlier dismissed by another Valenzuela court.
Guevarra believes that the recent decision of the Valenzuela court will not affect the case at the Manila RTC.
The dismissal of the Valenzuela case for transporting illegal drugs has no bearing whatsoever on the pending cases in Manila for illegal importation of dangerous drugs, he said.
Those two cases are distinct from each other and are based on different provisions of the dangerous drugs law, he explained.
He added that they will file the appeal next week.
Apart from Taguba, Chen and Marcellana, the other defendants in the case include Li Guang Feng, alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen Xi, alias Kenneth Dong; Eirene Mae Tatad; Chen I-Min; Jhu Ming Jhun; and Chen Rong Huan.
Last November, Valenzuela RTC Branch 180 Judge Nena Santos also dismissed the drug importation charges against the nine accused due to lack of jurisdiction.
The accused still have to face trial for similar drug charges re-filed by the government prosecutors before the Regional Trial Court of Manila City.
The case stemmed from the Bureau of Customs' (BOC) discovery of the shabu shipment at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 26, 2017 based on a tip from the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the China Customs.
The 604-kilogram shabu shipment is one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in the country, and was a subject of a lengthy congressional probe which also led to the resignation of former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency