Faeldon laughs off charges against him over P6.4-B shabu shipment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — A "laughable complaint."

That's how former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon described the charges filed against him over the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China under his watch last May.

The complaint was "sloppy," Faeldon said in his sworn statement filed with the Justice Department on Thursday.

Faeldon said it was a "good story-line" that he and other Customs officials conspired to release the 604-kilogram shabu shipment, one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in Philippine history. But he said it was illogical, considering the actions he had done to confiscate the shipment. 

He said if he really wanted to "smuggle, enrich himself and also get away scot-free," he could have easily told Chinese authorities the intelligence information was negative to protect the smugglers.

On the evening of May 25, a Customs official from Xiamen, China alerted their local counterparts about the shipment of an undetermined quantity of illegal drugs from China.

At dawn on May 26, BOC officials raided two Valenzuela warehouses where they found 604 bags of shabu hidden in five solid steel cylinders used in printing presses, each a foot in diameter.

Faeldon said this happened because he sent letters of authority, showing his "swift and decisive" action to seize the contraband.

Filed by a 'mere usurper'

Faeldon also questioned the identity of the one who filed it - Norman Balquiedra, who signed as head of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)'s Seaport Interdiction Unit.

"Is he even an actual person?" Faeldon said, adding that prosecutors at the Justice Department have not even met Balquiedra.

"Just to show how sloppy his complaint is however, this Balquiedra did not even supply his middle initial, much less his middle name," he said.

He called Balquiedra a "mere usurper" who failed to attach a written authorization from PDEA to file the complaint in the name of the agency.

He said even if Balquiedra was PDEA unit head, "his duties and functions do not include the prosecution of offenses in the name of PDEA."

Out of 'sourgraping'

Faeldon accused PDEA officials of sourgraping because it was the BOC and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that seized the multi-billion shabu shipment.

Balquiedra and his handler, former PDEA Regional Director Wilkins Villanueva, were "consumed with envy," Faeldon said.

He also accused Balquiedra and Villanueva of trying to obstruct justice.

"By filing this harassment case against me, my BOC team, as well as NBI agents, aren't B and his handler (Villanueva) trying to muddle the issues, specially the case already filed by the NBI?" he said.

On August 14, the NBI filed drug charges against Richard Tan, the owner of the warehouse and the one who supposedly gave the intelligence information to Chinese authorities, warehouse caretaker Fidel Anoche Dee, and other Chinese and Taiwanese businessmen involved in the shipment: Dong Yi Shen (alias Kenneth Dong), Li Guang Feng (alias Manny Li), Chen I. Myin, and Jhu Minh Jyun.

Others are also facing charges for allegedly facilitating the release of shipment: Customs fixer Mark Taguba, who allegedly arranged for the shipment's release along with licensed broker Teejay Marcellana, Eirene May Tatad, owner of import company EMT Trading.

Former BOC official, businessman claim innocence

Other respondents also appeared at the Justice Department on Thursday to answer allegations hurdled against them.

Former Customs Intelligence Chief Neil Estrella said the burea coordinated with PDEA, contrary to PDEA's claim.

He submitted a certificate of coordination as proof.

Estrella led the Customs team that raided the Valenzuela City warehouses where the drugs were discovered.

Tan also claimed innocence. He is the Filipino-Chinese businessman who tipped off Chinese authorities.

"Nakakalungkot na siya pa yung tumulong sa mga ahensya para mahuli yung mga droga pero ngayon sya pa yung kinasuhan (It's sad that he was the one who helped the agency but he was the one being prosecuted)," Abraham Gutoc, Tan's lawyer, said.

He added the case is being railroaded.

"Hindi dapat kinakasuhan ng drug cases or illegal importation ang freight forwarder… Is it because dahil walang mahuli (ang PDEA) at kailangang may kasuhan?" he said.

Translation: "They should not file drug or illegal importation cases against the freight forwarder. Is it because PDEA has no one else to blame or arrest?"

PDEA is expected to present its side during the next hearing set on Nov. 3.

The Justice Department earlier junked Faeldon's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. But it ruled that the lower courts, not the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, has jurisdiction over drug cases.

Faeldon is also detained at the Senate for skipping hearings into the multi-billion shabu smuggling.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.