A KEY witness in the ongoing Senate investigation into the illegal entry of P6.4 billion shipment of “shabu” into the country did an “about face” on Friday when he apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte’s son and son-in-law for being the cause of “fake news”.
Alleged Bureau of Customs (BOC) “player” Mark Ruben Taguba 2nd cleared Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio, husband of Mayor Sara Duterte, of any involvement in the anomalies in the bureau, including the illegal shipment of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” from China and alleged payoff to Customs officials and staff.
“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 that was released by his lawyer Raymund Fortun Friday.
Taguba’s statement came a day after testifying before the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry into the shabu shipment and payoff controversy at the BOC.
Taguba claimed that he personally handed P5 million to Davao City first district Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera during a meeting at a restaurant in Davao City last January.
The money is for the one-time enrollment fee to the Davao group so that his shipments at the Customs would be released smoothly.
Taguba said he learned about the Davao group from a certain “Tita Nanie” who introduced him to “Jack” who, in turn, has contact with Abellera and Vice Mayor Duterte.
“I had never testified, nor will I ever testify that Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and/or Atty. Manse Carpio were involved in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country. Neither have I testified, nor will I ever testify that the aforementioned individuals were involved in the “tara system” that was in-place at the Bureau of Customs,” Taguba said.
He also said the names of the vice mayor and his brother-in-law were merely mentioned by the “Davao group” through Tita Nannie and Jack.
“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 added.
Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd and Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, had branded Taguba’s testimony on Duterte and Carpio as mere “hearsay”.
In fact, it was the reason why Gordon refused to invite the two members of the first family because of the absence of testimonies directly involving them.
“Sa akin hearsay yung narinig ko. Ayoko sasabihin na inaayos ko yung evidence kaya ibigay natin sa Senado kung gusto niya (For me what I’ve heard was hearsay. I don’t saying that I’m fixing the evidence that is why I will let the Senate decided on what he wants),” said Gordon, referring to the motion of Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th to invite Duterte and Carpio.
This disagreement between the two senators caused tempers to flare during the inquiry on Thursday, as Gordon threatened Trillanes with contempt and was now considering filing an ethics complaint against him after the former military officer-turned-politician accused his colleague of protecting “sacred cows” and of lawyering for the family of Duterte.