Prosecutors slam PDEA

19 threaten to join Resado in quitting govt’s drug task force

By William B. Depasupil, Reporter

Another word war has erupted, this time between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

It led to the 20-man team of prosecutors from the Task Force on Anti-Illegal Drugs under the Justice department threatening to resign en masse to dramatize their protest over allegations made by the agency that they were bribed with P50 million in exchange for the dismissal of drug charges against the “Alabang Boys.”

The anti-drug agency last week suggested that the alleged bribe money came from the camp of the three boys, all accused of drug dealing— Richard Santos Brodett, Jorge Jordana Joseph and Joseph Ramirez Tecson. The insinuation has led to a “family feud” between two branches of the Brodett clan.

Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño disclosed the prosecutors’ threat on Friday after the lawyers informed him of their plan to submit their resignations, because “they [prosecutors assigned to the DOJ task force] really cannot work under this cloud of suspicion with all these insinuations [against them].”

Zuño was referring to the allegations made by anti-drug agency officials that money changed hands between the prosecutors and the families of the “Alabang Boys.”

He said that the state prosecutors’ request for relief was relayed to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, who quickly turned it down.

“You must stay put,” Zuño quoted Gonzalez as saying.

But the chief state prosecutor said that the Justice secretary did not give any reason for rejecting the request for relief of the prosecutors.

Prosecutors’ dare

Zuño added that they were also willing to face the Ombudsman should it conduct a separate investigation on the matter.

“Yes, we will welcome it. We have nothing to hide,” he said.

According to Zuño, the prosecutors made the threat to quit en masse after State Prosecutor John Resado on Thursday relayed his intention to resign to the task force chairman, Senior State Prosecutor Philip Kimpo.

Resado was the prosecutor who wrote a resolution that dismissed the charges against the “Alabang Boys.” The dismissal triggered the accusations on the P50-million bribery attempt on Justice officials, including the prosecutors.

The “Alabang Boys” were arrested in September 2008 by anti-drug agency agents in separate entrap­ments in Quezon City and Ayala-Alabang, a well-known enclave of the rich and famous in Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila.

According to Zuño, the prosecutors’ morale has sunk because of the accusations.

“They told me that their morale is very low and that they are disgusted with what is happening,” he said. “They are not used to psychological-warfare tactics being used by PDEA.”

Zuño maintained that the prosecutors were innocent and that Resado wrote the resolution based on facts and would stand by it.

He dared the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency “to show concrete evidence” supporting its allegations, saying that “if you cannot name names, please stop making such allegations.”

Prosecutors unite

Joining Zuño in defending the embattled 20-man prosecutors’ team was the State Prosecutors’ Association.

They were “unfair and damaging to the institution in general,” the association president, Crisaldo Rioflorido, said also on Friday, referring to the bribery allegations made by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

He vouched for the integrity and competence of Resado, saying that the resolution was a product of careful study and evaluation of evidence.

Rioflorido also challenged Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, the head of the agency’s Special Enforcement Services, to disclose the names of those who allegedly mediated and also offered him a bribe in exchange for the release of the three drug suspects.

“Name names,” he said, addressing Marcelino and adding that the agency official coming out in the open is the only way for the truth to come out.(ManilaTimes)

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