The Charlie Tan-Paolo Duterte connection

Sen. Panfilo Lacson delivers his expose on anomalies in the Bureau of Customs last Aug. 23.

Once again, we are seeing proof of the saying that truth will find its way out, however one tries to block it.

We are referring to the Paolo Duterte-Charlie Tan drug connection.

Paolo is the son of President Duterte and is the vice mayor of Davao City. Charlie Tan, according to news reports, is a Taiwanese businessman who does a lot of business in Davao.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s privilege speech last Aug. 23 on corruption at the Bureau of Customs was indeed explosive.

As Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said, Lacson’s speech “has exposed more actionable information regarding corruption in BOC compared to Sen. Richard Gordon’s endless hours of monologue and one-man show hearings.”

Lacson showed the corruption network and the current payola/tara practice. He named names. Included in his list of “alleged bribe givers or ‘players’” is“Charlie Tan of Davao Group.”

In earlier hearings of the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Gordon on the 604 kilos of shabu worth P6.4 billion that was able to slip through the Customs, broker Mark Taguba talked of the “Davao Group” that he had to connect with so his importations would not be flagged down, and instead breeze through customs without inspection.

The name of Paolo Duterte or Pulong came up. Taguba even showed a text message from a customs fixer he only identified as “Tita Nani,” saying a P5 million fee is needed to “enrol” into the Davao group.

Taguba said he flew to Davao and delivered the P5 million enrolment fee to Davao City Councilor Noli “Small” Abellera, known to be a close friend of Paolo. Taguba said once enrolled in the Davao group, he continued giving P10,000 per container or about P1 million weekly for 100 containers to another member of the group named “Jack.”

Lacson’s privilege speech did not mention Paolo Duterte. However, the inclusion of the name Charlie Tan led us to recall the testimony of former Davao Death Squad member SPO4 Arturo Lascañas last March 6, where he related an incident involving Paolo and Charlie Tan.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte with Councilo Nilo “Small” Abellera.Photo submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Lascañas said sometime in between late 2013 and early 2014, Paolo told him about a delayed shipment of furniture and other items he imported from China. He said the container van also included the belongings of a certain Charlie Tan and that there’s information that Tan had placed drugs in the container van.

Paolo instructed him to tail the van when it arrives, deliver it to the village hall of Barangay Catalunan Grande, and arrest Tan if the shipment yields drugs. Lascañas did what he was told to do.

However, when the van arrived in Davao City and he was on his way to intercept the alleged hot cargo, Paolo called him up saying, “Arbor ko na lang, bro. Ako na ang bahala kay Charlie (Leave it to me. I’ll take care of Charlie).”

Lascañas said although he never knew if drugs were found in the van, he was disappointed that Duterte intervened with the operation to entrap Tan.

The whole testimony of Lascañas during that March 6 hearing conducted by Lacson’s Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs was dismissed by the senator as not enough evidence to prove that the Davao Death Squad by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte existed. It must be mentioned that in the first appearance of Lascañas at the Senate in Oct. 2016, he denied the existence of the DDS.

Lacson’s expose last week got diverted by former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon’s own expose about alleged cement smuggling by the senator’s son, Pampi Lacson. It’s a different issue which should be investigated. But it should not be made to cover up the truth about the Davao Group’s hand in the corruption at the Bureau of Customs.

We should not forget that the Taguba’s 604 kilo shipment of shabu passed through Customs without inspection because of the “Davao group.” That’s only one shipment. How many more kilos of illegal drugs passed through Customs because they were facilitated by the Davao group?

Let’s also not forget that more than 5,000 have been killed in President Duterte’s indiscrimate campaign against illegal drugs. Last Saturday, we buried 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.