Taguba in no position to clear Paolo and Manse

Mark Taguba at the Aug. 31 Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

Last Friday, 26-year old customs broker Mark Taguba, through lawyer Raymond Fortun, released the following statement:

“I have been informed of the circulation of fake news that have been deviously spread on social media relative to my testimony at the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing of the Philippine Senate yesterday (31st August 2017).

“I wish to categorically make it clear that:

1) I had never testified, nor will I ever testify that Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte and/or Atty. Manse Crpio were involved in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country. Neither have I testified, nor will I ever testify that the aforementioned individuals were involved in the “tara system” that was in-place at the Bureau of Customs.

2) The names of Vice-Mayor Duterte and/or Atty. Manases Carpio were merely mentioned by the “Davao group” whose direct contacts to me were ‘Tita Nannie’ and ‘Jack’. As I had repeatedly stated before Congress and the Senate, the alleged involvement of the aforementioned individuals are hearsay in nature.

3) At no time have I met either Vice-Mayor Duterte or Atty. Carpio in person, much less discuss any illegal transaction at the bureau of customs with them.

4) To this day, I contest that the container that my company caused to be released on May 24, 2017 contained the 605 kilograms of shabu. As I have repeatedly testified, the contents of the container (otherwise known as the “packing list”) which was duly certified to be correct by the port of Xiamen under the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement will reflect that it only contained general household items and not the five (5) cylinders where the shabu was discovered.

“I am making this statement to clear Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Manse Carpio from any involvement in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country, and any anomalies in the Bureau of Customs. I also hereby apologize to Vice-Mayor Duterte, Atty. Carpio and to the first family for the proliferation of fake news arising out of my testimony at the senate yesterday.”

Davao City Councilor Noli "Small" Abellera is the one on the front left, Davao City Mayor Paolo Duterte on the front right. Behind are Manse Carpio, left, and Charlie Tan. Photo from the office of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

There is nothing wrong in the statement except the first sentence of the last paragraph.

Taguba is not in a position to clear Paolo Duterte and Manse Carpio. As he himself said, he never met them. What does he know of their activities? What he knows is what he said last Thursday in the Senate hearing about giving Davao City Councilor Noli “Small” Abellera P5 million as “enrolment fee” so that his shipments will be just breeze through Customs without inspection.

His Davao trip is mentioned in one of the more than 100 text messages between him and “Tita Nani”, photo copies of which were submitted to the Blue Ribbon Committee.

A Jan. 11, 9:20 a.m message from a Tita Nani read: Good am, Mark, we’ll make final arrangement with Jack. He is the handler of Paolo. Now, we have to advance the enroll—he can fly down to Davao to arrange your meeting with Polong ASAP. During the meeting, you personally turn over the five million, same manner you likewise you turn over the 1MLN to Jack when we meet.”

At the Senate hearing he said his understanding was that the money he gave to Abellera was for Paolo. Whether Abellera gave it to Paolo or not, is beyond him.

There was also the March 17 text message which said, ”Tita there’s no need to panic. I haven’t filed it yet. All I need from Tito Jack is for either P or Mance to call collector Jet Maronilla that we have go signal for our SPL.”

Davao City Councilor Noli "Small" Abellera at the Aug 31 Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

As one Malaya reader, Rolly C. Fabro, sharply observed: “With the sudden turnaround of Taguba, I'm just wondering how and why he cleared Polong & Mans whom he never met? How would he vouch the vices of a shady character he's not acquianted nor familiar with?”

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who has relentlessly pursued the connection of the Davao group to the release from Customs of 604 kilos of shabu, is unfazed by Taguba’s clearing of President Duterte’s son and son-in-law. He said in a statement: “I can only imagine the pressure being applied on Mr. Taguba right now. But the hearing yesterday was seen on national TV so the public knows what he said or did not say. The text messages he read aloud which named Paolo Duterte and Mans Carpio were never forced on him and neither were they fabricated. Therefore, Mr. Taguba's clarification doesn't change anything, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio should still appear before the Blue Ribbon Committee. The effect of his statement is no different from Kian De los Santos' parents doing the fist salute with Duterte.”


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