Court orders NBI to explain why Taguba not moved to Manila jail

MANILA, Philippines – A Manila court on Friday, February 9, ordered a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) official to explain why Customs fixer Mark Taguba has yet to be transferred to the Manila City jail after the court ordered it.

Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Manila Regional Trial Ccourt Branch 46 gave NBI Custodial Center chief Menardo Cariaga  48 hours to explain in writing why they should not be cited for contempt for failing to follow the order. 

The court had earlier denied Taguba’s motion to remain under NBI detention, citing lack evidence that moving him out of the facility would endanger his life.

On Monday, February 5, Taguba’s lawyers filed a very urgent motion to keep the accused detained in the NBI, citing threats to his life if he would be moved to the Manila jail.

In the motion for reconsideration, Taguba's father, Ruben, claimed to have information that one of the government officials his son had named during the Senate hearings on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment was out to have his son killed once detained at the Manila City jail.

Taguba’s lawyer, Raymond Fortun, reiterated this on Friday in an interview with reporters.  He said a personal friend of Ruben also reached out to him to say that there was a threat to Taguba's life at the city jail. 

“Hindi natin mapagkakaila na mabigat po 'yung mga sinabi ni Mark sa Senado,” Fortun said. “Marami po siyang taong binanggit mga taong dinawit. May mga natanggal na din po sa posisyon dahil doon. Napakalaki po ng posibilidad na mayroong mga taong nais gumanti at maghasik ng masama laban kay Mark.”

(It cannot be denied that Mark made some serious allegations at the Senate. He mentioned a lot of people, and implicated them. Some lost their positions because of that. There's a very big possibility that there are people who want to seek revenge and do something bad against Mark.)

Taguba was the witness who testified at House and Senate hearings on the controversial shipment and bared the involvement of the so-called "Davao Group" in smuggling, as well as the web of corruption in Customs.

Arraignment deferred

Taguba was allowed to remain under NBI custody pending the resolution of the order. His arraignment was also deferred to February 23, pending a petition for review of his case in the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Until then, Fortun hopes that the DOJ would reconsider its earlier resolution charging Taguba for the crime of importation of illegal drugs.

The lawyer also told reporters that the DOJ had filed another case against Taguba pending before a Valenzuela court, accusing  him of "transportation" of illegal drugs.

"Ano ba talaga? Importation ba ang ginawa ni Mark Taguba or transportation? Kung sila mismo hindi nila maintindihan kung ano 'yung sinasampa nila kay Mark, nais po naming iparating sa ikinauukulan, para mapag-isip-isipan naman nila, na napakamali po ng mga sinampa nilang kaso kay Mark,” Fortun said.

(What is it, really? Did Mark Taguba do importation or transportation? If they themselves cannot understand the charges they filed against Mark, we want to inform those concerned, so that they can rethink this, that the case they filed against Mark is very wrong.)

In November last year, the DOJ charged Taguba with importation of illegal drugs as the alleged middleman in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China in May 2017.

The DOJ had charged Taguba and 9 others in but cleared Customs officials who had been implicated in the scandal.  –