Text messages bring P6.4 billion shabu scandal closer to Paolo Duterte

The text conversation between “Tita Nani” and customs broker Mark Taguba. Screenshot from Taguba’s mobile phone presented during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Aug. 22, 2017.

Paolo Duterte’s name cropped up once again in Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the 604 kilos of shabu worth P6.4 billion that slipped through the watch of the Bureau of Customs last May.

Paolo Duterte, vice mayor of Davao City, is the son of President Duterte. His name appeared in a text message between customs broker Mark Taguba and a certain “Tita Nani,” said to be also “brokering” between brokers and the powerful groups that make things happen at the BOC. Taguba also mentioned the name of Davao City councillor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr., known to be very close to Paolo.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript of yesterday’s hearing:

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV: So as far as you are concerned, itong Davao Group na ito made things happen, kung baga, napapalusot, napapadali iyong mga pagpasok mo ng mga container van. Is that correct?

Taguba: Yes, Your Honor.


Taguba: Your Honor, nag-meeting kami sa Eastwood ulit—Eastwood pa lang iyon iyong unang beses na nakita ko si Tita Nani tapos pinakilala ako ni Tito Jojo sa kanila, sinabi niya na malakas daw sila doon sa Davao tapos po magbibigay daw po ako ng enrollment fee which is 5M.

Sen. Richard Gordon: Sabi ni?

Taguba: Sabi po ni Tita Nani.

Gordon: Enrollment—matrikula.Parang pumapasok ka sa eskwela. Sige.

Trillanes: Pwedeng pakibasa iyong exact na text niya and if you can show the Committee Chairman, at least, and some members iyon mismong after mong mabasa, for the record.

Taguba: So January 11 po ito. Ang nakalagay po sa text niya, “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.” Iyon po ang pinakauna niyang text.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr.

Trillanes: Mr. Taguba, ika-clarify ko lang, ano. You mentioned about the five million na dinala mo sa Davao noong nag-meeting kayo?

Taguba: Yes, Your Honor.

Trillanes: Doon sa restaurant?

Taguba: Yes, Your Honor.

Trillanes: Naka-meet mo si Mr. Abellera, si Small?

Taguba: Yes, Your Honor.

Trillanes: Naabot mo ba iyong five million?

Taguba: Yes, Your Honor.

Trillanes: Yes.Ano iyong sinabi niya about it?

Taguba: Sinabi lang po niya, tawagan niya ako mamayang gabi. Tapos dinala na ako ni Jack doon sa hotel ko.

Trillanes: Okay. So, ikaw, based doon sa pag-uusap niyo ni Small, sigurado ka that he is representing Paolo Duterte bago mo binigay iyong five million?

Taguba: Your Honor—

Trillanes: Hindi, iyong pakiramdam mo lang kasi there’s no way to find that out until ma-meet mo si Paolo Duterte, right?


Taguba said after paying his P5 million enrolment fee, he continued giving to Jack P10,000 per container or about P1 million weekly for 100 containers, which the latter collected every Friday each time he flew to Manila from Davao.

Duterte has said several times that he would resign if any of his children were proven to be involved in corruption.

Last Aug. 11, he said allegations about Paolo’s involvement in corruption activities must be supported by an affidavit.

Sabi ko, just give me an affidavit and I will step down as President of this Republic,” he said.