Star witness, 9 others face raps for shabu lab
posted 1-Dec-2018  ·  
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly filed charges anew against nine former respondents in the shabu laboratory case, as well as lone witness Ernesto Tabor Jr., following an automatic review of the earlier resolution promulgated in February 2018

In her review resolution issued Nov. 14, 2018, DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar modified the previous joint resolution and directed Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez to file an information against PBM Joseph Al-Randie Wong, former Albay PBM Niño Snookie Imperial, and alleged drug trader Jun Rance for violation of Section 26, Par. (d) of Republic Act 9165, specifically conspiracy to trade dangerous drugs.

Suarez was also ordered to include Angelica Balmadrid-Isidoro, Atty. Ulpiano Sarmiento III, businessman Jardin Brian Wong, former Caramoan Mayor Constantino Cordial Jr., businessman Alan Ang Hung, Lorenzo “Bigik” Piñera IV, and Tabor as among the accused of conspiracy to manufacture dangerous drugs.

It may be recalled that last Mar. 8, 2018, Suarez recommended that former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional director Augusto Eric Isidoro, Xian Xian Wang, Pido Bonito and Jayson Uy be charged for conspiracy to manufacture dangerous drugs.

A separate charge for manufacturing of dangerous drugs under Section 8, Article II of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended, was filed against Paolo Uy, Jayson Uy, Raymond Lee, farm caretaker Lorenzo “Lawrence/Kidot” Piñera II, Paolo Wee Palisoc, Phung Yuan Estorco and Sheng Wang. Two counts of possession of dangerous drugs under Sec. 11 of the same law were filed against the two Uys, Piñera, Palisoc, Estorco and Wang.

Dropped by the Suarez resolution from the list of respondents were the NBI official’s spouse, Angelica the two Wong brothers, ex-mayor Cordial; trucking company owners Ang Hung and Noel Sampag; the caretaker’s son, Bigik Pinera; Dean Atty. Sarmiento, Imperial, and brothers Roel and Dennis Samonte, who piloted the motorized banca that the Chinese used in escaping to the mainland.

The filing of the new charges against the former respondents, as well as the inclusion of the star witness in the case, comes just a month after Isidoro was arraigned before Makati City RTC Branch 62 Presiding Judge Selma Palacio-Alara.

As the charges are non-bailable, the court is expected to issue warrants for the arrest of the new respondents, who will subsequently be detained at the Makati City jail during the hearing of the case.

In the review resolution, Usec. Villar pointed out that the warehouse used as shabu laboratory was discovered on a parcel of land being leased by Isidoro from Atty. Sarmiento and Isidoro. Sarmiento was earlier dropped as respondent solely on a motion to exclude that he filed.

“These facts are admitted, and lead a reasonable mind to believe that respondents know of the illegal activities being conducted in the warehouse and thus were part of the conspiracy…,” she stressed.

The DOJ stated that the investigating prosecutor should not be limited by the complainant in determining who to file a criminal case against.

On the other hand, Usec. Villar said the filing of conspiracy charge against PBM Wong, Imperial and Rance is proper as “Tabor’s testimony should be sufficient to establish probable cause” against them.

The same eyewitness testimony was relied upon by the DOJ review in the inclusion of JB Wong, Cordial, Ang Hung and Lorenzo Piñera.

Bigik Piñera, she added, should have been included as witness Raffy Beraquit saw him make arrangements for the escape of the Chinese while the Samonte brothers were only hired as boatmen and had no idea as to the purpose of their hiring.

As for Tabor, the DOJ underscored that in all his sworn statements, he has admitted his participation in the establishment of the laboratory.

“The fact that he is a witness for the complainant cannot erase the fact that he has conspired with the other respondents in the manufacture of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical,” Usec. Villar emphasized. “If he is to be used as a state witness for the prosecution of the other respondents in this case, then he must be discharged as an accused by order of the proper court.”

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