Gordon puts blame on Taguba as ‘central figure’ in BOC corruption

Camille Elemia
Gordon puts blame on Taguba as ‘central figure’ in BOC corruption
Senator Richard Gordon says charges should be filed against fixer Mark Taguba, adding that he was 'less than forthright' in the hearings

MANILA, Philippines – Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon is set to recommend the filing of charges against Bureau of Customs (BOC) fixer Mark Taguba for the P6.4 billion worth of shabu smuggled from China.

In a 52-page draft committee report obtained by Rappler on Tuesday, October 10, Gordon said Taguba is the “quintessential corruptor” and the “central figure” in the “entire corrupt chain.”

Gordon said Taguba violated Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, RA 10863 or the Act Modernizing the Customs and Tariff Administration, or Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code for bribery, and Presidential Decree 1829 for obstructing apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders.

“He is, as found in the hearings: a ‘quintessential corruptor’; the fulcrum without which the entry lever of the illegal drugs would not have risen; the apex connecting all the sides of the dramatis personae involved; and, is one of the many vortices from tide of corruption in the Bureau of Customs,” Gordon said in the partial report.

The senator said it was Taguba who asked Eirene Tatad of EMT Trading to be his dummy consignee.

He also said it was Taguba who met with Kenneth Dong, Richard Chen, and his father Ruben Taguba in Manila last May 31 to agree that they would claim they do not know anything, should they be asked about the shipment.

Gordon also included Taguba’s admission of paying “tara” or bribe money to BOC personnel.

“The committee finds Mr Taguba less than forthright. He seems to deliberately dillydally before answering questions. He would look at his phone when unsure of what to answer. He would hesitate, be evasive, and eventually just answer merely to please the chair and the other senators,” Gordon said.

The senator added that Taguba has “shown great propensity of interest in anything financially beneficial to him.”

“While Mr Taguba has indeed testified, given information, and seemingly cooperated with the committee in its investigation, the committee strongly feels that he has not revealed the full extent of his knowledge in the matter,” Gordon said.

The blue ribbon committee, the senator said, offers no legislative immunity to Taguba as it is not within its power.

“We leave him to the tender mercies of the courts.”

In the same draft report, Gordon recommended that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conduct a lifestyle check on presidential son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law Manases Carpio.

Gordon, however, did not recommend the filing of charges against the two. He was earlier accused by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV of trying to protect President Rodrigo Duterte’s family. (READ: ‘Committee de absuwelto’? Gordon, Trillanes face off in smuggling probe)

In past Senate hearings, Taguba implicated Duterte and Carpio in smuggling. They are alleged members of the so-called Davao Group.

Taguba presented screenshots of his conversations, where the names of Duterte and Carpio were mentioned. (READ: Here’s what else was in Taguba’s text messages on Customs)

Taguba said it was a certain Tita Nanie who introduced him to the Davao Group, which included Duterte’s friend, Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr and a certain “Jack.”

To date, the identities of Tita Nanie and Jack are still unknown.

Abellera previously confirmed before the committee that he met Taguba and Jack at a restaurant in Davao City, but he denied 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