Filipina importer in P6.4-B shabu case denied bail

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 has denied the petition for bail of Eirene Mae Tatad, the Filipino owner of an importing company that received the shabu shipment worth P6.4 billion in 2017. 

Tatad has been in jail since February over charges of drug importation.

The Chinese businessmen, as well as two Taiwanese nationals, who are similarly charged for the smuggling of shabu have evaded arrest.

The following people were ordered arrested from January to February, but continue to be at large:

Under the rules of court, law enforcement officers tasked to serve the warrant must report to the court within 10 days, either with a return warrant, or to explain in a report why the warrant has not yet been served. 

According to Branch 47, law enforcement officers said in their report that the subjects couldn't be located.

Alias warrants or reissued warrants have since been issued against the 7 who are at large. 

Bail denied

In a resolution dated July 30, Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesta said granting Tatad bail now would be premature.

”The court finds it premature for accused Tatad to ask the court to fix her bail as no determination has been made by the court as to whether the evidence of guilt is strong or not. In fact the accused has not filed an application for bail. Consequently no bail hearing can even commence,” said Judge Montesa.

Tatad is the owner of EMT trading, an importing company which carried the shipment. According to the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), EMT paid the taxes and duties of the shipment after it made a deal with Customs fixer Mark Taguba to carry the shipment.

Both Taguba and Tatad claim they did not know the shipment carried shabu.

“She had no knowledge or awareness of the illegal nature of the cargo subject of the shipment. She does not know the shipper and was not the end consignee of the alleged drugs uncovered in the 5 heavy metal cylinders from Xiaamen,” Tatad said, as quoted by Judge Montesa’s resolution.

Aside from Tatad, Taguba is also in jail. Taguba’s bail petition is pending.

Only Tatad, Taguba, and warehouse caretaker Fidel Anoche-Dee have been detained over billions worth of drugs.

The Chinese and Taiwanese

Dee acted as a caretaker of his sister’s warehouse in Valenzuela, where Bureau of Customs (BOC) agents eventually found the 604 kilos of shabu valued at P6.4 billion. 

The warehouse was being rented out to the two Taiwanese: Jhu Ming Jhun and Chen Rong Huan, who continue to escape accountability.

SHABU SHIPMENT. Chinese businessmen Richard Chen/Tan (left) and Kenneth Dong (right) are still at large five months since their arrest warrants were issued. Photo of Richard Chen/Tan by Joseph Vidal/PRIB and photo of Kenneth Dong by Rappler

SHABU SHIPMENT. Chinese businessmen Richard Chen/Tan (left) and Kenneth Dong (right) are still at large five months since their arrest warrants were issued.

Photo of Richard Chen/Tan by Joseph Vidal/PRIB and photo of Kenneth Dong by Rappler

Chen or Tan is the alleged owner of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Incorporated, the importer of the drug shipment. Manny Li and Chen Rong Huan also allegedly work for Hongfei.

Chen supposedly asked help from Manny Li, who then used Kenneth Dong as his link to Taguba, who then enlisted the help of Tatad’s EMT trading, according to the NBI.

Senator Richard Gordon said Chen or Tan was the one "ultimately responsible" for the smuggling of shabu. Taguba added he is a "consolidator" in China, with companies allegedly going to him so the shipping fee would be divided among many senders.

Customs officials are undergoing preliminary investigation at the Office of the Ombudsman. Presidential son resigned Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte was cleared by the Ombudsman's fact-finding team. – Rappler.com

 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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