Trillanes tags Duterte son-in-law in smuggling

Camille Elemia
(UPDATED) Former Customs intelligence chief Neil Estrella confirms that he saw Manases Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, visit the office of the Customs chief

PRESIDENTIAL IN-LAW. Lawyer Manases Carpio (right) with wife, Sara, and President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo from the Facebook page of Manases Carpio

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday, August 29, tagged presidential son-in-law Manases “Mans” Carpio in smuggling.

Trillanes made the allegation after a Customs official confirmed at the Senate probe into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China, that he saw the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio visit outgoing Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“Nakita ko pumasyal sa (I saw him visit the) Bureau of Customs, your honor,” former Customs intelligence head Neil Estrella said at the Senate hearing.

Asked what was Carpio’s business in the agency, Estrella said: “I am not privy to [that]. I just came down from my office, I chanced upon him going out of the commissioner’s office.”

During the hearing, Trillanes asked Estrella and Customs Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala about presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte’s visits to the BOC but both denied knowledge of the matter. (READ: FAST FACTS: Who is Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte?)

“I have no info. Naririnig ko lang (I only hear about the) Davao Group but I haven’t seen him,” Gambala said.

Trillanes claimed Carpio was also involved in smuggling, together with Paolo Duterte, both allegedly part of the so-called Davao Group that has close ties to the BOC.

The senator said Estrella’s confirmation that Carpio visited Faeldon “proved” the information he had against the presidential son-in-law. He added that he had witnesses to prove the claim.

Trillanes alleged that Carpio visited Faeldon 5 times while Paolo Duterte visited the outgoing Customs chief twice.

“This confirms ang aking information, ‘di lang Paolo Duterte ang umeeksena, pumapapel sa Customs operations, kundi si Mans Carpio na rin. Family affair na ito ng pamilya Duterte,” Trillanes told reporters in an interview.

(This confirms my information that aside from Paolo Duterte, Mans Carpio is also involved in Customs operations. This is already a family affair of the Duterte family.)

Trillanes questioned Carpio’s visits and said he “has no business” in the agency.

“Mans Carpio has no business being there. Alam nila influential kanilang pamilya. ‘Di mo iisipin na nakikipagkwentuhan tungkol sa showbiz o anuman. Talagang this confirms ‘yung information na ‘yung sa Davao Group na sinasabi, pati itong si Mans Carpio kasama aside from Paolo Duterte,” the senator said.

(Mans Carpio has no business being there. They know that their family is influential. You wouldn’t think that they were just chatting about showbiz or something. This really confirms the information about the so-called Davao Group, that even Mans Carpio is involved aside from Paolo Duterte.)

He alleged that the P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China was smuggled with the help of the two, since they supposedly asked for a “special no-look fee” from importers in exchange for shipments passing through the green or express lane.

“Definitely, ganoon ‘yung transaction. Lahat ‘yun nagmamano lahat kay Paolo Duterte (Definitely, that is the transaction. All of them seek the blessing of Paolo Duterte),” Trillanes claimed.

Carpio has since denied Trillanes’ smuggling allegations, saying he goes to the BOC because he represents clients who have transactions with the bureau. The senator, added Carpio, is just a “desperate rumormonger.”

Earlier, Customs broker and “fixer” Mark Taguba said he personally paid an initial fee of P5 million to Paolo Duterte’s “friend,” Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr, and to the vice mayor’s “handler,” Jack.

Abellera confirmed meeting Taguba and Jack but denied any involvement in smuggling. – Rappler.com 

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com