Malacanang puts on hold re-filing of shabu lab raps
posted 19-Dec-2018  ·  
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Star witness Ernesto Tabor Jr. and nine former respondents in the shabu laboratory controversy sighed in relief last week after Malacanang reportedly ordered the Department of Justice to put on hold the filing of criminal charges against them.

Several of the respondents allegedly reached out to the Palace shortly after 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, San Beda College of Law Dean 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 is claimed that a Palace official “coordinated” with the DOJ to delay the implementation of the Villar directive and to conduct another review of her resolution, with the job allegedly going to Prosecutor Suarez.

The new resolution on the shabu lab issue is to be issued by the Justice department sometime before the Christmas break, an informed source claimed.

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 Villar review resolution came just a month after Isidoro was arraigned before Makati City RTC Branch 62 Presiding Judge Selma Palacio-Alara.

As the charges are non-bailable, those to be charged will face arrest and detention at the Makati City jail during the hearing of the case. This possibility reportedly forced some of the respondents to lie low and keep out of public view while their counsels filed separate motions for reconsideration with Villar’s office.

In the review resolution, Usec. Villar had 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.

On the other hand, she 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.”

The respondents, however, through their counsels, pointed out that the DOJ review resolution relied too heavily on the Tabor affidavit-complaint and did not take into consideration the defense raised by the respondents in their separate answers, including inconsistencies in Tabor’s testimony.

Former Governor Araceli Wong, in a statement issued recently, blasted powerful people who want to cling to their posts for manipulating the controversial shabu laboratory issue by persistently linking the family to its operation.

The former chief executive said the repeated attempts to link the shabu lab story to her sons, PBM Joseph Al-Randie and businessman Jardin Brian, is just a manipulation of people who want to stay in power and divert the truth that they should be the ones who should be prosecuted and held responsible.

“Our name has never been dragged into any issue involving corruption, cheating or deception of fellowmen,” Wong stated. “My conscience will not be able to carry the burden of allowing my children to get involved in the operation and distribution of illegal drugs.”

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