MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s son and son-in-law Paolo “Pulong” Duterte and Manases “Mans” Carpio’s attendance on Thursday at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation into drug smuggling and corrupt activities at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is their first and last.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, told reporters after the seventh hearing that his panel would focus on investigating other personalities being linked to the so-called Davao Group that allegedly facilitates the release of smuggled goods from the country’s ports.
“I’ll try to be able na makuha ko lahat, ‘yang Jack, ‘yang Nani, ‘yang Jojo. Dumating na at least si Saban, dumating na si General Alen Capuyan,” said Gordon.
[I’ll try to be able to get everyone, that Jack, Nani, and Jojo. At least Saban and General Alen Capuyan have arrived.]
“That will be the focus of the next investigation. I think it will become bigger at that point,” he added.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who has been linking Davao Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio to the Davao Group and alleged drug smuggling, failed to squeeze any information from the two during the Senate inquiry on Thursday as they both invoked their right to privacy.
During previous hearings by the Senate and the House of Representatives, importer-fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II mentioned the names of Duterte and Carpio, which he said were mentioned to him by a certain Tita Nani in her text messages to him.
Tita Nani: The one who mentioned Pulong Duterte’s name in her text exchange with Taguba
Tita Nani, whose identity remains unknown, transacted with Taguba allegedly on behalf of the Davao Group for the easy release of Taguba’s shipments from the BOC.
Taguba said the group had asked him for millions of pesos in exchange for helping him move his shipments without scrutiny by the BOC.
In her text exchanges with Taguba, Tita Nani told him that Davao Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte’s alleged transactions with the BOC were being handled by a certain “Jack,” another member of the Davao Group.
In another text message to Taguba dated March 13, Tita Nani linked a certain “Mance” to smuggling activities at the BOC. Asked during the Senate hearing last August 31 who the “Mance” in the message was, Taguba said he’s the “asawa ni (the husband of) Mayor Sara.”
The National Bureau of Investigation is checking the identity of Tita Nani, whom Taguba later identified as a certain Nani Cabatu. During the hearing on Thursday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson instructed the bureau to also check if a certain Nimfa Alcantara Cabatu was the Tita Nani that Taguba was referring to.
Jack: The alleged handler of Pulong
Jack also remains unknown, but was met by Taguba in Davao City on January 16, 2017 with Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr., a friend of the vice mayor.
In a January 11 text exchange with Taguba, Tita Nani said Jack was Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte’s “handler.”
Abellera was the chairperson of the Davao Sangguniang Panlungsod’s Committee on Trade, Commerce and Industry and member of Davao’s Investment Incentive Board when President Duterte was the city’s vice mayor.
Under the current mayorship of Sara Duterte-Carpio, Abellara was elected as the Davao City Council’s chair of the Committee on Peace and Public Safety and vice chairman of the Committee on Barangay Affairs and Committee on Public Works and Highways.
During the Senate hearing last August 31, Abellera admitted that he had met Taguba and Jack at the Casa de Amigos bar in Davao after Jack called him up for a meeting.
However, Abellera said he didn’t know the surname or complete name of Jack even though the latter knew his contact number. He testified that he could have probably met Jack “casually” in a party, political event, or a bar.
Taguba said he gave P5 million to Abellera. But the councilor denied receiving the money and being part of the Davao Group. During his testimony at the Senate, Taguba said he went with Abellera to his car and handed to the councilor the money inside a blue Lacoste bag.
Before giving the money to the councilor, Taguba said Abellera, while they were at Casa de Amigos with Jack, told him that if he wanted to join the group, he should properly remit money because they didn’t want to get burned.
Jojo Bacud: The person who allegedly introduced Taguba to Davao Group’s Tita Nani
Jojo Bacud was identified during the Senate hearing on Thursday as an employee of the BOC.
Earlier, Taguba said that Bacud, whom he said claimed to be working with the BOC’s Special Studies and Project Development Committee, referred him to Tita Nani after Bacud failed to help Taguba release his other shipments.
Bacud is said to be a friend of Taguba’s father, who was formerly with the Customs police.
Mike Saban: The BOC employee who allegedly made it hard for Taguba to release his cargoes
According to Taguba, it was Mike Saban, whom he said was assigned at the Office of the Commissioner as a technical assitant, was the one who made it difficult for him to release his shipments after Saban allegedly had a misunderstanding with Taguba’s father.
But lawyer Teresa Anderson of the BOC Human Resource said that Saban is assigned at the Intelligence Group of the bureau and not at the commissioner’s office.
General Capuyan: Allegedly introduced by Tita Nani to Taguba
According to Taguba, Tita Nani also referred to him a second group that included a certain “Noel” and “Big Brother,” whom he called “General Capuyan,” after he received an alert for his shipment while Taguba was being helped by the first Davao Group.
Trillanes, during a Senate hearing, identified the second group’s General Capuyan as Allen Capuyan of from the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983.
Capuyan, the chief of the Philippine Army’s Intelligence Service Unit in Davao from 1997 to 2000, is currently the assistant general manager for security and emergency services of the Manila International Airport Authority.
During the Arroyo administration, Capuyan was chief for operations of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) from January 2004 to February 2005.
In November 2011, during a Senate hearing, Lt. Col. Pedro Sumayo testified that his former superior, Col. Emil Sosa gave him P900,000 in October of the same year a month before his testimony and at the time when he was asking Capuyan, then head of the ISAFP’s special operations group, to help him regarding his floating status at the military.
Sumayo, who used to be the head of MIG 21, the ISAFP unit assigned in communications and surveillance, said he was told by Sosa that the money allegedly came from Capuyan.
It was Sumayo who was given copies of the “Hello, Garci” tapes by Air Force Technical Sgt. Vidal Doble. Jr.
The recordings, which came out in 2005, supposedly contained the phone conversations between a woman believed to be then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a man, who was allegedly Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, about the rigging of the results of the 2004 elections.
Sumayo said he had surrendered the tapes given by Doble to his superior Capuyan, who allegedly ordered him to burn the tapes.
Doble claimed that Capuyan and Sumayo were among those behind the so-called Project Lighthouse that supposedly involved the wiretapping of key personalities from both the Arroyo administration and the political opposition, which allegedly produced the “Hello, Garci” tapes — an allegation that Capuyan and Sumayo both denied.