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DoJ eyes CA appeal for Tan shabu case

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The Justice department vowed Friday to petition the Court of Appeals to reverse the decision of a Valenzuela City Court dismissing the drug charges against nine people, including Chinese businessman Chen Julong, alias Richard Tan, and customs broker Mark Taguba in connection with the P6.4-billion shipment of illegal drugs last year.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he had been informed that his department’s motion for reconsideration was denied.

He said his department will file a petition before the appellate court assailing the decision of the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court, Branch 284, dismissing the drug charges against Taguba and eight others.

“We will question the trial court’s ruling before a superior court [Court of Appeals]. We maintain that the transport of illegal drugs is a distinct offense from illegal importation which ends at the customs area,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.

He said the case of the illegal importation pending before the Manila City RTC would not be affected by the adverse ruling.

The Valenzuela City RTC denied the department’s motion for reconsideration due to its failure to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of its April 23, 2018 ruling.

In his April 23, 2018 decision, Judge Arthur Melicor granted the motion to dismiss filed by Chinese businessman Chen Julong, as well as the motion to dismiss and recall the warrant of arrest filed by Customs brokers Taguba and Teejay Marcellana.

Besides Taguba and Tan, the others accused include Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li; Dong Yi Shen Xi alias Kenneth Dong; import company owner Eirene Mae Tatad; customs broker Teejay Marcellana; Taiwanese businessmen Chen I-Min; Jhu Ming Jhun; and Chen Rong Huan.

Taguba and Marcellana also filed separate motions to dismiss, which were also granted by the court.

Melicor said the prosecution’s move “clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping” and “betray [their] intent to secure favorable judgment from different courts.”

Forum shopping happens when a case involving the same facts is filed in two separate courts in hopes that one of them will rule favorably.

The accused still have to face trial for similar drug charges refiled by the government prosecutors before the Regional Trial Court of Manila.

The case stemmed from the Bureau of Customs’ discovery of the shabu shipment at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 26, 2017, based on a tip from the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the Chinese Customs.

The 604-kilogram shabu shipment is one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in the country and was a subject of a lengthy congressional probe that also led to the resignation of former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.


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