MANILA – The Department of Justice denied they committed forum-shopping in pursuing charges against those involved in the importation of P6.4 billion worth of shabu last year.
Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will appeal the decision of the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court to dismiss the drug charges in connection with the seized shipment.
Nine people led by Chinese businessman Chen Julong alias “Richard Tan” and Bureau of Customs broker Mark Taguba were respondents to the junked DOJ case.
The prosecution’s move of filing the case in Valenzuela and Manila RTCs “clearly bears the hallmarks of forum shopping” and “betray [their] intent to secure favorable judgment from different courts,” Valenzuela City RTC Branch 284 Judge Arthur Melicor said in a verdict made public last week.
“We will file a motion for reconsideration,” Guevarra said. “There was no forum-shopping because transporting illegal drugs is a distinct act from importation,” which was tackled in another case filed in a Manila RTC.
“The act of importation ends at the customs area. Transporting the drugs to Valenzuela is a separate act punishable under a different provision of the dangerous drugs law,” he added.
Guevarra stressed that the Valenzuela RTC’s decision will not affect the case at the Manila RTC.
“The dismissal of the Valenzuela case … has no bearing whatsoever on the pending cases in Manila for illegal importation of dangerous drugs,” he said.
“Those two cases are distinct from each other and are based on different provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Law,” he explained.
The Bureau of Customs discovered the shabu shipment in a Hong Fei Logistics, Inc. 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 was one of the biggest hauls of smuggled drugs in the country and was a subject of a lengthy congressional investigation that led to the resignation of Nicanor Faeldon as Customs commissioner./PN