Faeldon questions jurisdiction as DOJ probe into P6.4-B drug smuggling begins

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Nicanor Faeldon
Former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon with the ethics complaint he filed against Sen. Panfilo Lacson. (Photo by MONG PINTOLO/Philstar)

MANILA, Philippines — Former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon questioned the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice as the investigation into the drug and graft complaints filed against him and other officials and brokers began on Thursday, October 5.

Faeldon and some of his co-accused — former Customs intelligence chief Neil Estrella, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong and EMT Trading owner Eirene Tatad — also attended the start of the preliminary investigation.

But customs brokers Mark Taguba and Teejay Marcellana, who have also been called “facilitators” for their role in getting cargo, including contraband, released by Customs did not show up.

The DOJ plans to consolidate the separate complaints filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Bureau of Investigation as these contain the same facts and have the same witnesses.

Faeldon, who filed a motion to junk the complaint against him, said as a Salary Grade 30 governmen employee, the complaint against him should have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.

However, the panel of prosecutors said Faeldon’s claim was similar to the motion filed by detained Senator Leila de Lima when she was investigated by the DOJ for her alleged ties to drug trafficking inside the National Bilibid Prison.

The charges against De Lima were filed before the Muntinlupa regional trial court, where she will be tried.

Nevertheless, the DOJ ordered the PDEA to reply to Faeldon’s motion within five days.

The next hearing has been scheduled for October 19, which is also the deadline for the respondents to submit their counter-affidavits.