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Taguba pleads for bail, says he has no knowledge of P6.4-B shabu in metal cylinders

As Customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba II pleads for bail for a drug smuggling case, his lawyer insisted Tuesday that he did not know that the metal cylinders shipped from China last year contained illegal drugs.

During a hearing at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46, the prosecution and the defense also agreed that resigned Customs intelligence chief Col. Neil Estrella, a witness, had no personal knowledge on whether or not Taguba knew the metal cylinders contained shabu.

Such stipulations are "very material," Taguba's lawyer, Raymond Fortun, said in a text message after the hearing. "To date, the prosecution has no proof that the cylinders were inside the container and/or that Mark knew they were inside."

"Everything is 'according to Chen Ju Long' and he will not testify for the prosecution," the lawyer said, referring to the owner of Hongfei Logistics Inc., whose warehouse in Valenzuela City was found to have kept the 602.2 kilograms of shabu seized by authorities in May last year.

Chen was one of the accused in the illegal drug importation case. He and other foreigners named in the charges have not yet been arrested. Only Taguba and Eirene Mae Tatad, the consignee of the shipment, were present during the hearing.

Illegal drug importation, as defined in the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, is punishable by life imprisonment, making it a non-bailable offense if the evidence of guilt is strong, hence the hearings on Taguba's bail petition.

Tatad had earlier asked the court to fix bail for her, but the court denied what it called the consignee's "premature" motion.

The next hearing on Taguba's petition for bail was set for November 26. — LDF, GMA News