By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
Two Chinese businessmen were jailed at the Senate for the alleged importation of dangerous drugs as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it is ready to file charges against those involved in the PHP 6.4- billion drug shipment from China smuggled into the country through the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in Manila.
Temporarily held at the Senate detention facility are Chen Ju Long alias Richard Tan, Chinese citizen from Xiamen and Manny Li. They will be immediately transferred to the Pasay City Jail once their commitment order is signed by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Chen is the owner of Hong Fei Logistics with a warehouse at De Castro Subdivision, Paso de Paz, Valenzuela City, where the 604 kilos of shabu were confiscated by Philippine authorities last May 26.
The BoC discovered the illegal drugs in Chen’s warehouse following the tip from the General Administration of China Customs. The contraband was concealed in five metal cylinders.
Li, also known as Li Guang Feng , is a friend Kenneth Dong (Dong Yi Shen Xi), a Filipino-Chinese businessman, whom he asked for a broker to help Chen.
Chen and Li were among those summoned by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, investigating the questionable entry of the illegal drugs from Xiamen.
It was Sen. Panfilo Lacson who told Gordon’s panel that Chen and Li should be detained for violation of Section 4 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“Never mind the chain of command, or questions on the search warrant. We can just rely on the documents that dangerous drugs were imported and that Chen is the owner of Hong Fei,” said Lacson.
Under intense grilling, Lacson questioned Chen who picked up the shipment from China and to whom they were delivered.
While drug shipment came from Hong Fei in China and was received by Hon Fei in the Philippines, both owned by Chen, the latter, has maintained he has no idea on the consignee of the shipments. He also denied the whereabouts of three other drug shipments.
To back up his denial, Chen said he has too many customers and clients and that he was not hands on in his warehouse operation. He also complained against the decision of the senators to put him in jail, saying it was unfair to him.
Speaking through an interpreter, Chen said it was unfair that he is being accused of a crime despite his efforts to talk to help the local government’s investigation.
Lacson blurted out at Chen, “you have been residing in the Philippines for 20 years. Is that not unfair to the Filipinos, especially the youth, who will be killed by tons of illegal drugs coming here from China?”
Since the offense is malum prohibitum, Lacson dismissed the need for “many talks” in the case. The Senator said the penalty for drug importation is life imprisonment since there is no death penalty in the Philippines.
While under detention, Lacson asked Chen about the principals of the drug shipment.
But Chen, whose father-in-law was a former member of the Bureau of Customs in Xiamen, maintained his innocence. He said he was compelled to speak up in order to get protection because he fears for his safety and his life from members of organized crime syndicates in the Philippines.
Gordon explained that the acts of Chen and Li falls under the purview of importation of illegal drugs into the Philippines regardless of quantity and purity.
At the start of his questioning, Lacson slammed Chen, Lin and the other resource persons and witnesses for being evasive and telling lies.
Wilkins Villanueva of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) contradicted the hardline stance of Chen and Li that they have no knowledge about the drug shipment.
He said they both knew of the drug shipment based on the “packing list” that came from China, indicating the five cylinders.
He said that when the packing list was transmitted by Li to Dong, there was no mention of the packing list in the cylinders.
Chen even said he knew the shipment contained printing machines although he was informed by China Customs that illegal drugs shipment will be brought into his warehouse.
He recalled receiving a call on May 25 from Wang Zi Dong, head of the inspection department of Xiamen Customs, that the five insulator machines in the shipment contained illegal drugs.
China Customs also said the two Taiwanese, who were behind the illegal shipment have been caught.
NBI Deputy Director Vicente De Guzman admitted they encountered difficulty in identifying the real culprits in the case. They will file the charges by next week but refused to reveal the names of the respondents.
He said it was just last week or after two months of investigation when they established the final consignee of the illegal drugs.
Sen. Chiz Escudero confronted the NBI and PDEA if anybody has been charged in connection with the drug shipment.
PDEA said Fidel Aniche Dee, caretaker of Chen’s warehouse is already in jail on drug charges.
Escudero said he felt sheer frustration over the government’s drug war when they have been killing small-time drug users and pushers but were very careful on big time personalities involved in the illicit drug trade like the PHP 6.4-billion drug shipment.