‘OUR LIVES ARE AT STAKE’ | Ex-BOC intel chief to go into hiding if drug smuggling raps reach court

October 4, 2017 - 7:46 AM
Resigned BOC intelligence chief Neil Antony Estrella. (RTVM video grab)

MANILA, Philippines — The former intelligence chief of the Bureau of Customs said he would go into hiding should the drug trafficking charges filed against him and 11 others over the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of crystal meth, or “shabu,” reach the courts.

“This is not something we can ignore. Our lives are at stake here. These are very serious allegations based on lies,” Neil Anthony Estrella, former head of the BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service told a press briefing on Tuesday, October 3.

Estrella, along with former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and 10 other officials of the agency have been charged with graft, conspiracy to import illegal drugs and coddling drug traffickers, and negligence and tolerance for allegedly facilitating the escape of the persons responsible for importing the drugs in May.

The other accused are: former BOC Import Assessment Services director Milo Maestrecampo; intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente; Manila International Container Port district collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla; Faeldon’s fiancé, lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci; and BOC employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor.

The PDEA complaint has been consolidated with the drug smuggling complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against the importers and brokers of the shipment, which is already undergoing preliminary investigation before the Department of Justice.

The NBI complaint accuses businessman Dong Yi Shen alias “Kenneth Dong”; Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun, both Taiwanese; Chinese nationals Chen Ju Long alias “Richard Tan” or “Richard Chen,” chairman and general manager of Philippine Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies Inc., and Li Guang Feng, alias “Manny Li”; customs brokers Mark Ruben Taguba II and Teejay Marcellana; and Eirene Mae Agustino Tatad, owner of EMT Trading, which was identified as the consignee for the shabu shipment that was declared general merchandise.

“These are non-bailable offenses. I don’t intend to spend my life in jail for the things I did not even commit,” Estrella said.

He said he is set to file a counter-affidavit before the DOJ on Thursday seeking the dismissal of the charges against him.