The Department of Justice has started its preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed against Jacky Co and 16 others over their alleged involvement in the smuggling of P1.8-billion worth of shabu seized at the Manila International Container Port last March.
Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and only one of the respondents, Jane Abello Castillo, attended the closed-door hearing.
Co (Chinese name Zhijian Xu), whom Senator Panfilo Lacson had alleged was mainly responsible for the drug shipment, did not show up.
Apart from Co, named as respondents in the complaint filed by PDEA were Castillo, Brother Dong-An Dong, Julie Hao Gamboa, Fe Tamayosa, Alvin Bautista, Carlo Dale Zueta, Abraham Torecampo, Arwin Caparros, Leonardo Sucaldito, Mark Leo Magpayo, Brian Pabilona, Meldy Sayson, Rhea Tolosa, Edgardo Dominado, Jerry Siguenza, and Debbie Joy Aceron.
In its complaint, the PDEA accused the respondents, which include officers and directors of Wealth Lotus Empire Corp. and Fortuneyield Cargo Services, of importation of illegal drugs in violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Nonetheless, the DOJ investigating prosecutors ordered lawyers of the respondents to submit their counter-affidavits when the preliminary investigation resumes on July 10.
PDEA said 276 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, worth P1.876 billion managed to slip into the country. The shipment was discovered last March 22, concealed in plastic resin, following intelligence reports from drug counterparts in Vietnam.
The PDEA also found that Lotus Empire Corp. and Fortuneyield were the consignees of the shipment.
In May, Lacson questioned how Co entered and departed the Philippines despite being on the Interpol watchlist.
Citing immigration records, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Co was neither on the watchlist nor in the government’s database of individuals barred from leaving the country.