DOJ drops charges against Faeldon, 13 ex-Customs officials

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped on Wednesday charges against former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and 13 other customs officials in relation to the smuggled P6.4-billion drug shipment from China.

The DOJ said in its statement their panel of prosecutors dismissed the charges for failure of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to state the involvement of the customs officers.

The panel said the evidence of PDEA to support illegal importation charges were insufficient to establish a case.

"The eradication of the menace of illegal drugs is one of our pronounced mandates in your DOJ. And the filing of the information in this case is one way to eradicate this threat for the better future of our youth and loved ones," Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said in the statement.

The DOJ panel dismissed the charges against Import Assessment Services Director Milo Maestrecampo and Intelligence Director Neil Estrella; Intelligence Officers Joel Pinawin, Oliver Valiente; and other officials, Atty. Jeleena Magsuci, Atty. Philip Maronilla, Alexandra Y. Ventura, Randolph O. Cabansag, Dennis J. Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.

Faeldon is currently detained at the Senate for skipping hearings into the multi-billion methampetamine hydrochloride (shabu) smuggling.

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

The panel also dismissed the charges against the agents and investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the corporate investors of Hong Fei Logistics, where the 604 kilograms of shabu was initially found on May 17.

Meanwhile, the DOJ found probable cause for the charges against Chen Ju Long a.k.a. "Richard Tan" or "Richard Chen" who was the owner of the warehouse, customs fixer Mark Taguba, and 13 Chinese and Filipino nationals.

The panel recommended they face the charges without bail.

After several inquiries by the Senate, the Office of the Ombudsman also conducted a probe on the questionable shipment.

READ: Ombudsman probes P6.4-B shabu smuggling

The duties and taxes of the shipment were paid on May 18, and it was released on the same day without further inspection since it passed through the Customs' so-called express "green lane."

The 604 bags of shabu were hidden in five solid steel cylinders used in printing presses, each a foot in diameter.

Meanwhile, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommended a lifestyle check on the President's son, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and his son-in-law Atty. Mans Carpio. Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio were tagged by Taguba as peddling influence at the customs bureau during the Senate inquiry.

This is a developing story. Please refresh the page for updates.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.