Witness claims ‘Davao group’ got P1M weekly for cargo release

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A Davao City official and two others had received an average of P1 million weekly to make sure that shipments would be released from the Bureau of Customs smoothly, a fly-by-night customs broker revealed Tuesday.

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At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry into the P6.4-billion “shabu” shipment from China, Mark Taguba disclosed that the Davao group, composed of Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera, a certain “Tita Nanie” and “Jack,” made things happen for him.

Taguba said the group was introduced to him by Tita Nanie after he encountered problems with his first “contact” at the bureau.

He said the Davao group asked for P5 million from him as one-time enrollment and P10,000 per container as weekly payoff.

“I was cleared afterwards. My cargoes have not been placed on alert since then,” Taguba said.

The committee, upon the request of Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, invited Abellera, Nanie Koh, chief of Customs’ auction cargo disposal monitoring division; and Lourdes Rosario from the bureau’s imports and assessment service section.

POINTING FINGERS ‘Fly-by-night’ customs broker Mark Taguba testifies before a Senate inquiry. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

Gordon initially questioned Koh and asked her about the nature of her work at the bureau, but Taguba later told the committee that she was not the “Tita Nanie” he had identified as among those accepting payoffs.

Duterte son dragged
Taguba said it was Tita Nanie who made arrangement with “Jack,” alleged “handler” of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

He even read during the hearing the supposed text message sent to him by Tita Nanie informing him about their transaction.

“Good am, Mark. Will make final arrangement with Jack. He is the handler of Paolo. Now we have to advance the enroll. He can fly down to Davao to arrange a meeting with Pulong ASAP. During the meeting, you personally turn over the P5 million same manner you likewise turn over the LMLN to Jack when we meet,” the January 11 text message read.

Taguba said he flew to Davao City and stayed at Marco Polo Hotel, where he was pickled up by Jack, and proceeded to a restaurant with the money.

He said he handed P5 million to Abellera, and it was also during that meeting where he was told about the remittance of P10,000 per container a week or P1 million a week to the group.

He said Jack flew to Manila every Friday to get the weekly payoff and head back to Davao.

Taguba claimed the group made things happen to him but only for a while, because he started receiving shipment alarms again three months after he made the deal.

Tita Nanie then referred him to a new group composed of a certain “Noel” and “Big Brother” who is also known as “General Capuyan.”

Trillanes later identified “big brother” as Col. Allen Capuyan of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983.

He said Capuyan assured him during their meeting that he would not have alerts on his shipments if he would deal with his group.

No show
Resigned Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was a no-show during the hearing, as well as the Abellera, who was among those invited.

Present in the hearing were Nanie Koh, chief of auction the Bureau’s Cargo Disposal Monitoring Division and Lourdes Rosario, from the bureau’s Imports and Assessment Service section.

But Taguba said Koh was not the “Tita Nanie” who had helped him get contacts at the bureau.

Nine individuals including Taguba have been charged by the National Bureau of Investigation in relation to the P6.4-billion worth of shabu shipment smuggled from China in May.

The 604 kilos of shabu was seized during a raid carried out by Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Neil Anthony Estrella, who recently resigned out of “delicadeza.”

The anti-smuggling bureau of Chinese Customs even commended the bureau for the successful operation.

Blue ribbon panel chief Sen. Richard Gordon called for another hearing on August 29.

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