MANILA, Philippines: Chinese businessman Richard Tan, the alleged forwarder of 604 kilos of shabu shipped from China, denied he had bribed a Bureau of Immigration (BI) official so he can leave the Philippines.
“Richard Tan has not bribed any immigration officials supposedly to leave the country,” said Tan’s lawyer Abraham Gutoc in a statement on Saturday.
It was a response to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s accusation that Tan, also known as Chen Ju Long, tried to leave the country twice last despite an Immigration lookout bulletin against him.
Aguirre said Tan was not able to leave because the BI official did not accept his bribe.
Gutoc claimed the Department of Justice (DOJ) had not informed Tan a lookout bulletin was already issued for him.
“Richard Tan did not intend to abscond and escape Philippine jurisdiction. If he were able to leave the country, he has all the intentions of returning to the Philippines since this is where his family and businesses are situated. His life is here in the Philippines,” said Gutoc.
“He didn’t even know that he is required to get a clearance from the Department of Justice to travel abroad since neither a hold departure order issued by a court or a warrant has been issued against him… Again, he didn’t even know that he was place in the immigration lookout bulletin as this was done by the DOJ unilaterally without informing him,” the lawyer added.
Tan is the owner of Hongfei Logistics, which transported the shipment containing the P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu from China. (TIMELINE: How P6.4-B worth of shabu was smuggled into PH from China)
He had denounced the draft Senate blue ribbon committee report pinning the blame on him for the drug smuggling. (READ: Senators see customs, Chinese ‘connivance’ in P6.4-B smuggled shabu)
Tan denied he was a drug importer and was turned into a scapegoat in the controversy that also implicated presidential son and former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law lawyer Manases Carpio.
“Again, Richard Tan is the whistleblower in this incident and if not for him, the drugs concealed and illegally imported to the Philippines would not have been discovered,” said Gutoc.