MARK Ruben Taguba 2nd, the “fly-by-night” broker at the Bureau of Customs, has turned around and cleared Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio of any involvement in anomalies at the agency, including the shipment of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs from China.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, who had used Taguba’s earlier testimony before a Senate inquiry to link the Duterte amily to corruption at Customs, claimed Taguba had been pressured to recant.
Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City pointed to inconsistencies in Taguba’s separate testimonies in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and warned that his immunity from suit was at stake.
“The testimony of Mark Taguba in the House (of Representatives) and in the Senate have material differences and because of that I cannot accept his testimony in good faith. There is a legal precept: falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus. Mr. Taguba has not told Congress the whole truth and it may cost him his congressional immunity,” Nograles said.
On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed Trillanes’ allegations as “trash” and defended Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio, husband of his daughter Sara, the mayor of Davao City.
Speaking before the military in Davao City, he reiterated his vow to resign if there was proof his family members were involved in corruption.
Carpio, he pointed out, is a lawyer and was merely exercising his profession.
Taguba says ‘sorry’
Taguba on Friday apologized for being the cause of “fake news” on Paolo Duterte and Carpio’s alleged involvement in the “Davao group” that supposedly facilitates shipments as well as the “tara” (payoff) system at Customs.
“I am making this statement to clear Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Manse Carpio from any involvement in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country, and any anomalies in the Bureau of Customs,” Taguba said in statement, released by his lawyer Raymond Fortun.
Taguba issued the statement a day after testifying before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry into the shabu shipment and payoff controversies.
During the hearing, Taguba told senators he personally handed a P5-million payoff to Davao City first district councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera, during a meeting at a restaurant in Davao City in January.
Taguba supposedly learned about the Davao group from a certain “Tita Nanie,” who then introduced him to “Jack,” who allegedly has contacts with Abellera and Paolo Duterte.
Taguba also mentioned the name of Carpio when he was reading text messages between him and Tita Nanie regarding his dealings with Customs.
On Friday, he said the names of the vice mayor and his brother-in-law were merely mentioned by the “Davao group,” and their alleged involvement in corruption at Customs was thus hearsay.
“As I had repeatedly stated before Congress (House of Representatives) and the Senate, the alleged involvement of the aforementioned individuals is hearsay in nature,” he said.
Ethics complaint vs Trillanes ‘proper’
Because of the “hearsay” testimony, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd and Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, expressed reservations against inviting Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio to the inquiry.
On Thursday, Gordon and Trillanes engaged in a heated argument, with the latter accusing the blue ribbon chairman of turning the panel into a venue to clear the Dutertes. Gordon has vowed to file an ethics case against Trillanes.
Some members of the Senate majority bloc said an ethics complaint would be the proper approach in dealing with Trillanes’ behavior.
“I don’t think any intervention can work. We just have to follow parliamentary procedures, period.” Sotto said.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said it was time for the Senate to maintain order in the chamber. “We practice parliamentary courtesy to avoid occurrence of such incidence. This is very unparliamentary,” he said.
Trillanes on Thursday night belittled Gordon’s threat to file an ethics complaint against him, saying he believed Gordon was merely “hurt” by his words.
“Go ahead. Hindi ako matatakot diyan. Kay Duterte nga hindi ako natatakot, sa kanya pa (I would not be afraid. I’m not even afraid of President Duterte, so why would I be afraid of him)?” Trillanes said.
Trillanes said he would still try to summon Paolo Duterte and Carpio to the Senate, despite Taguba’s turnaround.
“I can only imagine the pressure being applied on Mr. Taguba right now. But the hearing yesterday was seen on national TV so the public knows what he said or did not say,” Trillanes said.
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO