Sandiganbayan junks ex-Customs chief Faeldon's plea to dismiss 2017 rice smuggling case

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The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has denied former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon's motion to dismiss the graft cases filed against him over his involvement in the alleged smuggling of ₱34.04 million worth of Vietnam rice into the country more than four years ago. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) — The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has denied former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon's motion to dismiss the graft cases filed against him over his involvement in the alleged smuggling of ₱34.04 million worth of Vietnam rice into the country more than four years ago.

Faeldon was accused of conspiring with Cebu Lite Trading Incorporated (CLTI) by allowing 40,000 bags of rice through the Port of Cagayan De Oro in two separate deliveries in 2017 without the need to present the required import permits.

In May, Faeldon's camp filed an urgent motion to recall the resolution, hold departure order and warrant of arrest, as well as to dismiss the case against him, arguing against how the court found probable cause to charge the former official.

But the anti-graft court maintained that the findings were based on evidence showing Faeldon "caused undue injury to the government," and gave "unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference" to CLTI.

The Sandiganbayan also denied a similar motion for Rowena Lim, a corporate officer of CLTI.

It also warned Faeldon's counsel, Atty. Jelina Magsuci, against using "intemperate" or inappropriate language in writing motions.

The Sandiganbayan quoted a statement in Faeldon's motion which alleged that the COVID-19 pandemic may have led the court to an "oversight of their duty to conduct a punctilious review" of the records of the preliminary investigation. The motion also called the private complainant an "epal-litico" with "grandstanding allegations."

"Assisting counsel Jelina Maree D. Magsuci is directed to be circumspect and cautious in the writing of her submissions, with a stern warning that a repetition of a similar or analogous act shall be properly dealt with more severely," the Sandiganbayan's ruling stated.