THE Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday terminated its preliminary investigation on the criminal charges against personalities linked to the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in May.
Asst. State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes, chairman of a three-man investigating panel, said probers wrapped up the proceedings on the basis of the complaints filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The DoJ will proceed with drafting a resolution after some respondents filed their rejoinder affidavits.
In the rejoinder filed at the DoJ by the former head of the Bureau of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (BoC-CIIS), Neil Anthony Estrella, he lambasted officials of PDEA, claiming they failed to present facts to establish probable cause or the probable guilt of the CIIS personnel who it accused of graft and collusion in the drugs shipment.
He even argued that the complaint filed by PDEA was erroneous as it contained “half-truths and outright lies.”
“The CIIS does not have a hand in the approval or processing of shipments through the BoC, let alone, in designating that a shipment passes through the green lane where there is no inspection. Our mandate is to investigate and seize contraband outside the customs territory. So why are we, who with the NBI and PDEA are responsible for successfully conducting one of the largest drug busts in history, now included in this criminal case?” he pointed out.
Estrella said that on the basis of the PDEA findings, it was possible the real culprits could walk free. These include customs broker Mark Taguba and the shipment’s consignees.
Estrella warned that he would file perjury charges against Balquedra and former PDEA deputy director Wilkins Villanueva for their defamatory statements before congressional panels probing the drug shipment, and in the PDEA complaint affidavit lodged before the justice department.