THE former intelligence service director of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) yesterday appealed to the camp of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon and the Embassy of China to reveal details of their discussion as regards the shipment of 605 kilos of shabu into the country last May.
In a talk with this writer, Neil Estrella, the erstwhile customs intelligence service (CIIS) director, averred the revelation by either Gordon or Chinese ambassador Zhao Jhianhua, would help clear, not only his name, but also, the other customs officials who were indicted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday for graft and violation of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the ‘Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.’
Aside from Estrella on the BoC side, also indicted by the PDEA before the Department of Justice (DoJ), were 11 more bureau officials and agents, namely:
Former customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, his fiancée, Atty. Jelina Marce Magsuci; Import Assessment Service (IAS) director, Milo Maestrecampo; Manila International Container Port (MICP) district collector, Atty. Vincent Maronilla; CIIS agents, Joel Pinawin, Oliver Valiente; customs employees, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabaldo, and; John Edillor.
Also included in the charge sheet are 6 operatives from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and 19 other private individuals that include Customs player, Mark Taguba and Richard Tan/Richard Chen, among others.
Faeldon remains under detention at the Senate for contempt while Estrella and Maestrecampo have resigned from their posts. Maronilla, on the other hand, has been replaced as district collector on Monday by his deputy, Atty. Ruby Alameda, as approved by new Customs commissioner and ex-PDEA director general, Isidro Lapeña.
At yesterday’s hearing of the shabu smuggling incident, Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that has been conducting the probe, said he had discussed with Amb. Zhao the shabu smuggling incident that was subsequently seized by the government last May 26 on the effort of the team of Estrella at the CIIS.
Estrella maintained the information to be provided by the Chinese Embassy would help bolster their position that they did not “conspire” with the other accused by the PDEA to smuggle the shabu worth more than P6.4 billion into the country.
He noted that when he and his men conducted the operation and discovered the shabu inside the warehouse owned by Tan/Chen in Valenzuela City, they were acting on the information provided by their Chinese counterparts that they first relayed to Tan/Chen.
“Sa kanila (China) galing ’yung impormasyon; we just immediately acted on it,” Estrella said.
He also maintained the filing of the case by the PDEA was motivated by “ill-will,” alleging that certain officials of the PDEA has an “axe to grind” against the BoC.
Estrella also appealed for those behind the filing of the cases against them to “seek their conscience” as he maintained they have done nothing wrong or illegal in apprehending the shipment.
“Makonsensiya naman sila,” Estrella said, as he extended his appeal to the Senate with Gordon’s committee expected to release its report and recommendation today.