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5月26日のまにら新聞から

Lawyer of Japanese accused of smuggling money nearly cited in contempt in court hearing

[ 593 words|2023.5.26|英字 (English) ]

The lawyer of one of the Japanese nationals charged for allegedly smuggling more than 100 million yen into the country, was nearly cited in contempt during a hearing at the Pasay Regional Trial Court on Wednesday.

Presiding Judge Rowena Nieves Tan nearly cited Mikaelo Jaime Reyes in contempt for his “unethical” line of questioning of Customs Operations Officer III Marvin Mendoza, who witnessed the smuggling incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on February 3, 2022.

Despite Mendoza’s confirmation during the cross-examination that he explained the contents of the baggage declaration form to the accused, Reyes said he did not understand the question.

He still asked “How did you explain?”

Tan intervened and scolded Reyes: “You are assuming that he did not understand. You are putting words in his mouth. Very unethical,” she said.

Reyes apologized but continued with his questions.

“You know that the accused is Japanese. How did you explain?” he asked.

At this point, Tan threatened to cite Reyes in contempt.

“What do you want from him? What is it that you want to know? Do you want him to act out what happened that day? Are you asking did they (accused) understand?” Tan asked.

Tan earlier had also chastised Reyes for arguing with Mendoza about how he identified the money in the baggage of the Japanese nationals.

Through questions of Marites Mina Reginaldo, the lawyer of the other accused, Mendoza revealed that no interpreter was present during the incident.

Mendoza said that he received an intelligence report from Customs stating that the accused “were carrying foreign currency”.

He also said he was just doing his “regular duty” while waiting for the arrival of the Japanese nationals.

Mendoza recalled that the X-ray machine operator of the airport called him over when he noticed “suspicious images” after the backpack and the trolley bag of the accused were examined.

He later explained that the “suspicious images” were money.

Mendoza said he physically examined the hand-carried baggage of the Japanese nationals after asking for their baggage declaration forms.

In response to questions by Tan, Mendoza revealed that he had been working with Customs for four years and this was his first such operation.

“You said you were doing your ordinary duty. How do you reconcile that you were there on a mission to watch out for two passengers?” she asked.

“I was there for the regular hours of my duty. I was not there in the intelligence. I was there when they arrived,” he said.

Tan asked if the two Japanese had check-in baggage aside from those they were carrying and Mendoza confirmed.

“Who took out the money from the luggage?” Tan asked.

“I took out the money,” Mendoza said.

“Did you ask them why they carried that much money?” she asked.

“No, your honor,” he said.

Tan also asked if the two Japanese nationals could speak English.

He said they could speak “a little” English and they mentioned the money was their salary.

Tan ordered the cash division of BOC, which has custody over the cash of the accused and the arresting officer, who handles the baggage declaration form, to be summoned for additional evidence against the accused.

She set the next hearing for August 2 at 8:30 am.

The twoJapanese were arrested at the NAIA for bringing an alleged undeclared amount of 100,645,000 yen (P44,833,486).

They were detained for violating the rules of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Customs Modernization Act.

Under BSP rules, travelers are not permitted to carry cash worth more than $10,000 (P578,625). Jaspearl Tan/DMS