Gordon committee recommends charges vs 19 in shabu mess

Rambo Talabong
Gordon committee recommends charges vs 19 in shabu mess
The Senate blue ribbon committee pushes for charges against former law enforcers, Customs importers and employees, and suspected Chinese personalities

MANILA, Philippines – Two weeks after concluding months of investigation, the Senate blue ribbon committee released Monday, December 17, the report from its probe into the multi-billion shabu (methamphetamine) shipments that slipped through the country’s law enforcement agencies.

Chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, the committee recommended that criminal charges be filed against  19 individuals, ranging from former law enforcers to Customs employees, to suspected Chinese personalities.

“So far, this report has reached and implicated public officers up to the Deputy Director General in PDEA and Deputy Commissioner in the Bureau of Customs. This is not to say that those involved cannot go any higher,” reads the committee’s report.

“We dread to think that it might…and thus, we need to investigate more in order to determine with certainty all the people responsible for these abhorrent acts,” it added.

The committee report was filed on December 13 but released to the media only on Monday afternoon.

The ‘triumvirate’: The committee placed on top of its list the former law enforcers who allegedly orchestrated the shipments, or at least knew about them but did not share information with their colleagues. These are:

  1. Dismissed PNP colonel Eduardo Acierto – accused of importation of illegal drugs, graft, bribery, and obstruction of justice;
  2. Sacked PDEA deputy chief Ismael Fajardo – accused of importation of illegal drugs, graft, violation of the code of conduct of public officials, bribery, and obstruction of justice;
  3. Resigned Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban – accused of importation of illegal drugs, conspiracy to graft and corruption, violation of the code of conduct of government officials, bribery, and obstruction of justice.

According to the Senate panel’s report, Acierto, a veteran anti-drug cop, is the “linchpin” of the shabu shipments, as most resource persons point to him as the boss handing down the commands for the shipments and their coverups.

Despite the findings on Guban, the Senate panel said he is not the “most guilty” and should continuously be granted immunity from charges as a state witness under the Department of Justice’s witness protection program.

All 3 were named in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug matrix.

The importers: Next up on the list are the importers working in the private sector.

  1. SMYD Trading owner Marina Signapan – accused of importation of illegal drugs, conspiracy in graft, violation of Customs registration rules.
  2. Broker Katrina Grace Cuasay – accused of importation of illegal drugs and conspiracy in graft.
  3. Joseph Dimayuga – accused of importation of illegal drugs, and bribery
  4. Gorgonio Necessario – accused of importation of illegal drugs, and obstruction of justice.
  5. The alleged real owner of SMYD Trading Meg Santos – accused of importation of illegal drugs, graft, and corruption. 

Customs employees: 3 Customs employees were recommended to be charged of drug importation, receiving bribery, and violating the code of conduct of government employees. They are:

  1. X-ray examiner Noli Martinez;
  2. Customs appraiser Girlie Umali;
  3. Examiner Jenaline Garcia.

Interestingly, the committee did not recommend for any charges against X-ray chief Zsae de Guzman, who was earlier recommended as sacked by Gordon. De Guzman is also already facing complaints from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) before the DOJ.

Gordon’s committee also cleared former Customs chief Isidro Lapeña, as earlier announced.

Missing suspected Chinese: The following missing suspected Chinese personalities who contributed in the arrangement of the shabu shipments are accused of importation of illegal drugs:

  1. KC Chan
  2. Chung-Chun Hsu
  3. Zhang Quan
  4. Lin Tien Yi
  5. Lou Tian Yi
  6. Chen Minxuan 
  7. Fung
  8. Ping Cheung James

What comes next? It will be up to the Department of Justice, the Ombudsman, or other law enforcement agencies to heed the recommendation of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

The panel has recommended that the government stop the “consignees-for-hire” scheme which has long plagued the Bureau of Customs. It is the very same scheme used in the multibillion-peso shabu shipment back in 2017. (READ: Patterns emerge in 2017, 2018 shabu probes)

The committee has also called for the lifestyle check of all the persons mentioned above.

The report comes days after the PDEA filed complaints against over 40 individuals linked to the same controversy.

The missing shabu from the bigger shipment is believed to have already penetrated the country’s streets, while the suspected Chinese personalities have apparently left for abroad. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.