MANILA, Philippines – What prompted importer-broker Mark Ruben Taguba II to issue a statement on Friday clearing Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law, Manases “Mans” Carpio of any involvement in drug trade and the corrupt activities at the Bureau of Customs (BOC)?
READ RELATED STORY: Taguba: I did not testify and will never testify vs Pulong Duterte, Mans Carpio
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV thought that because of “pressure,” Taguba was forced to already absolve President Rodrigo Duterte’s son and son-in-law even before the two were quizzed on whether or not they had a hand at the anomalies at the BOC.
“I can only imagine the pressure being applied on Mr. Taguba right now,” the senator said in s statement issued Friday, September 1.
Gordon to Taguba: ‘Ano pa meron kayo? Gusto mo ilabas ko pa lahat?
Last Thursday, during the Upper Chamber’s inquiry into corrupt activities at the BOC and the shipment from China of 604 kilos of shabu, Trillanes accused Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, of “badgering” Taguba, the key witness to the probe, who was earlier given immunity from prosecution by the House of Representatives.
Among the information presented by Taguba to the Senate panel were the text exchanges between him and a certain “Tita Nani” of a Davao-based group, allegedly in cahoots with corrupt BOC officials and personnel. Taguba, during the Senate hearing, read some of the messages of Tita Nani, who linked Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio to the group’s operations.
During the Senate hearing on Thursday, just before Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. was quizzed by the panel on whether he was part of the Davao Group, Gordon asked Taguba of questions not directly related to the issue being probed by the Senate committee.
Gordon queried if it was true that Taguba and his family have a cockpit in Malabon City.
“Di ba totoong may sabungan rin kayo sa Malabon?” asked Gordon.
After Taguba replied yes, Gordon asked him, “Ano pa meron kayo? Gusto mong ilabas ko pa lahat [What else do you have? Do you want me to disclose everything]?”
“‘Di ba totoo na may warehouse kayong napakalaki sa fertilizer sa Tuguegarao [Isn’t it that you have a very big fertilizer warehouse in Tuguegarao]? Gordon again asked Taguba.
“Your honor, hindi ko na alam ‘yan [I don’t know about that anymore, your honor],” Taguba replied.
“Sinabi mo na kanina may warehouse kayo. Di mo alam kung ano ang laman ng warehouse [You already said that you have a warehouse. You don’t know what that warehouse contains]?,” Gordon said.
“Hindi po. Ang sinabi ko po, may resort, merong sabungan [No. What I said was we have a resort and a cockpit],” replied Taguba.
‘How could you study in Australia if your father is just a cop?’
Then Gordon asked Taguba how could his family “afford to send you to Australia” to study there and “afford to buy all these things on the salary of a policeman from customs,” referring to Taguba’s father and namesake.
“That’s why I wanted your father here. Nakiusap ka lang…Nakikiusap sa amin na huwag dalhin ang tatay mo rito because lalabas, lahat ang katotohanan. And that you are following into his footsteps. Na kayo, yumayaman sa Customs, araw-araw, nagbibigay kayo ng malaki at the expense of the Filipino people,” Gordon told Taguba.
[That’s why I wanted your father here. You just appealed to us for you not to bring your father here because all the truth will come out. And that you are following into his footsteps. That you and your family are getting rich because you give big amounts of money to Customs every day at the expense of the Filipino people.]
“Hindi ka ba nakokonsensya d’yan [Don’t you feel guilty about that]?” Gordon asked Taguba.
Sotto to Taguba: Your father’s mad at you
Then Sotto interjected and told Gordon that he had received information from a “very reliable source” that Taguba’s father “is mad and angry at” his son “at this situation.”
“Totoo ba [Is is true]?” Sotto asked Taguba whether his father was mad at him.
“Yes, you honor,” Taguba replied.
“Hindi lang ‘yon. Sabi ng father mo, napasukan ka raw ng kung sinong grupo [It’s not just that. Your father said that a certain group has managed to influence you.] Mamya [Later], privately, I’ll show it to you,” Sotto then told Taguba.
“Pagka gano’n, ‘wag. Dumeresto ka. Sabihin mo ‘yong totoo mo dahil ikaw ang sasabit pag napasukan ka ng kung sinu-sino ha. Tandaan mo ‘yan. [If that’s the case, don’t. You should go straight. Tell what you know is true because you would be the one put on the spot if you would allow some persons to influence you. Remember that],” Sotto further told Taguba.
Later in the hearing, Gordon and Trillanes engaged in a heated argument after the latter accused the Senate committee chair of “badgering” Taguba, adding that the Blue Ribbon panel under Gordon’s watch had turned into a “komite de abswelto [absolution committee].”
On Friday, Trillanes said Taguba’s clarification on his testimony mentioning the President’s son and son-in-law “doesn’t change anything.”
“The text messages he (Taguba) read aloud, which named Paolo Duterte and Mans Carpio, were never forced on him and neither were they fabricated,” he said.
“Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio should still appear before the Blue Ribbon Committee,” said Trillanes.
“The effect of his (Taguba’s) statement is no different from Kian De los Santos’ parents doing the fist salute with (President) Duterte,” the senator added.