MANILA, Philippines – Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon sought the issuance of a hold departure order against the alleged shipper of the P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China.
During a Senate hearing on Monday, July 31, customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba claimed a certain Richard Chen or Richard Tan, a Taiwanese national, ordered the shipping of 604 kilos of shabu from China to Manila.
“[We want] to secure a hold order for Richard Tan,” Gordon said during the hearing.
Taguba said Tan owns Hongfei Philippines, which shipped the shabu through EMT Trading under a “consignee-for-hire” scheme. This is a mechanism where a consignee accredited by the Bureau of Customs (BOC), like EMT Trading, sells its services for a royalty fee.
EMT Trading owner Eirene Mae Tatad said she had no idea that the shipment included illegal drugs.
Aside from Tan, Gordon also initially wanted a travel order against a certain Kenneth Dong. Tatad and Taguba both said they dealt with Dong as Tan’s middleman.
But according to the committee, Dong already left the country on July 28 for Chengdu, China.
The Senate blue ribbon committee is also set to subpoena lawyer Larribert Hilario, the BOC’s Risk Management Officer.
Hilario is accused of misrepresenting consignee EMT Trading, allowing it to pass through the BOC’s green or express lane, where there is no need to scan the shipment under X-ray.
BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon told the Senate panel that he verbally suspended Hilario pending investigation and that the officer seems to have gone into hiding.
“Since we suspended him, we cannot contact and locate him. He’s nowhere to be found,” Faeldon said.
Faeldon added that Hilario tried to change encoded data in the system to make it appear he did not commit fraud, by trying to omit information about the illegal shipment.
Gordon said there would be another hearing to further look into the issue.
Back in May, the BOC seized 604 kilos of shabu from two warehouses in Valenzuela City upon the tip of the General Administration of China Customs. Authorities found shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) hidden in 5 metal cylinders. (READ: Faeldon asks Duterte to probe P6.4B shabu shipment from China) – Rappler.com