DOJ junks criminal raps vs. 24 Taiwanese nationals

March 4, 2011 1:22 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, March 3 – A month after the deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals to the People's Republic of China (PROC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed the criminal case against them and 10 others which were filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Chinese Embassy.

In four separate resolutions issued by Investigating Prosecutor Gerard Gaerlan, he recommended the dismissal of a complaint for syndicated estafa and violation of Republic Act No. 8484, otherwise known as "The Access Devices Regulations Act of 1998" against the 24 respondents.

"After a careful evaluation of the records of this case, the undersigned investigating prosecutor finds the evidence presented by the complainants insufficient to establish probable cause against herein respondents for the crime charged," Gaerlan said.

Separate raids were conducted by the NBI Anti-Fraud and Action Division (NBI-AFAD) in the cities of Muntinlupa, Makati, Paranaque and Quezon where the 24 Taiwanese nationals have been arrested and various items such as two-way radios, box of telephone, laptops, computer cables and a router, among others, were confiscated from them.

Gaerlan said that under Section 9 of R.A. 8484, prohibited acts involve either a counterfeit access device, unauthorized access device or an access device fraudulently applied for.

However, in the complaint filed by the NBI and the Chinese Embassy, the seized items "cannot immediately be classified as access devices defined under R.A. 8484 since the said items were ordinary equipment or instruments used for ordinary activities."

"Thus, failure to show any proof that these seized items were used in committing prohibited acts under R.A. 8484 means that there is not enough evidence to establish probable cause against the respondents, since the mere possession of these items is not prohibited by the said law," Gaerlan added.

The 14 Taiwanese nationals deported on Feb. 2, 2011 were Liu Kue Yan, Lih Chih Chang, Tsou Chi Feng, Fan Ming Fu, Wang Jun Shang, Kung Yin Fin, Lin Te Kuei, Lin Yin Chan, Li Shang Bin, Zhuan Zhao Shan, Chan Ja Shang, Cheong Ho Yang, Li Yuan Hsing and Tai Yao Pin.

Their deportation resulted to diplomatic row between the Philippines and Taiwan, putting at risk overseas Filipino workers there and recruitment agencies calling for Immigration chief Ronaldo Ledesma's head.

Six of the 14 Taiwanese nationals questioned their arrest at the Court of Appeals by way of a petition for habeas corpus.

The CA issued a writ of habeas corpus on Feb. 2, 2011 for the authorities to produce their warm bodies before the appellate court, but they were deported the same day.

In a raid conducted in Makati City, Gaerlan noted that, aside from confiscating items not included under R.A. 8484 as devices used in such illegal activities, the arrest made by the NBI was illegal as well as the search of the premises where the gadgets were seized.

"In line with the doctrine of the fruit of the poisonous tree, seizure of prohibited articles in a house conducted during a search warrant without a valid search warrant makes them illegally obtained evidence, therefore making them inadmissible in any judicial proceedings," Gaerlan said. (PNA)



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