Archive for the ‘PDEA-DOJ Bribery case’ Category

Editorial Cartoon: Drug Addict

February 3, 2009

labay-on-drugs

Hehehehehe! Tsungki!

Palparan Appointment ‘Alarming’

February 2, 2009

By Alan Davis
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

Any casual observer of Philippine society wanting to know if the government is sincerely committed to improving human rights probably need only to wait and see if retired major general Jovito Palparan becomes strategic adviser to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

If it happens, it would suggest, to borrow a phrase from US President Barack Obama’s inauguration address last week, that the Philippine government is sitting ‘on the wrong side of history.’

Without a doubt it would be a backward step. The fact that it is even being seriously discussed says a great deal.

Media reports from late last week have been suggesting the chief reason Malacanang Palace is interested in appointing the general to a strategic position in the DDB is because he can try and apply his ‘experience of counter-insurgency’ against the drug gangs.

What might this mean?

Well, one need only look at the human rights charges leveled against Palparan and what happened in Thailand in 2003 when authorities there similarly declared war on the drug gangs. The military were unleashed and the campaign reportedly resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2,500-3,000 people.

Summary killings were rife and the campaign was roundly and loudly condemned by the international human rights community. Bizarrely, the then government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat announced a similar new anti-drugs campaign late last year in Thailand. His government however fell before it got around implementing the policy.

The Philippines is not Thailand – but there are creeping parallels here –one being the insidious power of the military. This increasingly seems to be a civilian government led by ex-generals as a glance around the cabinet table clearly shows.

Drugs are a curse on Philippine society as they are elsewhere. An effective drugs policy needs to be developed –and that is no easy thing. But we expect government policy to be more than popular vigilantism. We don’t need the kind of justice doled out by the likes of Dirty Harry. If the government is really serious about human rights it will tackle the drug problem through the rule of law, not the barrel of the gun.

Given the claims against Palparan –claims to be fair the general denies– the authorities should not be considering his reappointment to a position of power. As a simple indicator on the government’s commitment to human rights, it says it all.

Alan Davis is the director of the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and a director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting special projects(PinoyPress)

What P2.6M bank deposit? asks DOJ undersecretary

January 28, 2009

JUSTICE Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor yesterday denied allegations he received a P2.6-million to push for the release of the so-called Alabang boys from detention.

Reports coming from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency earlier said there was a second bribery at the Department of Justice, apart from the P800,000 allegedly deposited in the bank account of state prosecutor John Resado, investigating fiscal who dismissed the drug charges against Richard Brodett, Joseph Tecson and Jorge Joseph on Dec. 2, 2008.

Reports said a ranking DOJ official on December 19 took out a loan of P2,642,187.23 from the head office of Metrobank in Makati. On the same day, another person paid for the loan with P2,644,438.92, including fee and day interest of P2,251.70.

In a phone patch interview over dzMM, Blancaflor said he felt alluded to by the reports and denied that he has a bank account at Metrobank in Makati. What he got, he said, was just a housing loan, which he said he could not have gotten without a bank account.

“Absolutely none. Wala akong tinanggap na deposito at wala akong binayad na P2.6 million. Mali ‘yun. Kaya nagtataka ako. Walang pumasok na P2.6 million, wala ring binayad na P2.6 million on Dec. 19 or in any other time. Kahit kalian, walang pumasok sa account ko,” he said.

Blancaflor said the bank account being identified by unidentified sources was actually the serial number of his promissory note for his housing loan.

Blancaflor, who is still on forced leave pending investigation, got caught in the bribery scandal following the revelation of Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, chief of the Special Enforcement Service of the PDEA, that Blancaflor called him up on December 19.

Blancaflor has admitted making the call, but said he only inquired about the continuing detention of the suspects when a resolution has already been issued dismissing the charges.

The suspects were arrested in separate buy-bust operations in September last year Quezon City and Muntinlupa. PDEA agents found Ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine in their possession. – Evangeline de Vera(Malaya)

Prosecutor declines to open bank accounts

January 28, 2009

BY WENDELL VIGILIA

STATE prosecutor John Resado is not willing to open his bank accounts for scrutiny in light of allegations he was bribed to dismiss criminal charges against the so-called Alabang boys.

In a letter to the House oversight committee on dangerous drugs which is investigating the alleged bribery, Resado said he was declining to waive his rights, also invoking his constitutional right to privacy.

Resado, when he returned to testify before the committee last Friday, denied allegations contained in an anonymous letter that he deposited P800,000 on Dec. 2, 2008 in his account with the Banco de Oro SM Bacoor branch in Bacoor, Cavite, the same day he came out with a joint inquest resolution dismissing the drug charges against Richard Brodett, Joseph Tecson and Jorge Joseph who were arrested in September last year.

The same letter said Resado’s wife also received the same amount on the same day but Resado has denied it, saying the P800,000 in his account was a revolving fund from their money lending business.

(Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor yesterday said there was no P2.6 million deposited in his bank account, belying allegations he received a bribe to push for the release of the so-called Alabang Boys. Story on Page 3)

Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Lakas, Cebu), senior vice chair of the committee, said Resado’s refusal is “proof that he is hiding something.”

“Resado is afraid that his wrongdoings will be exposed,” he said.

Cuenco also said if the committee would not be able to pin Resado on bribery charges, it will use other options.

He said the committee will go after Resado Al Capone style, referring to what the FBI did to the Italian-American gangster of the 1920s and 30s whose criminal career ended with charges of tax evasion.

He said Resado did not report the income from the money lending business in his statement of assets and liabilities or income tax return.

“There is no permit from the Central Bank on his lending business and his business has been overcharging. The Supreme Court said the interest rates should not be more than 1.5 percent per month,” Cuenco added.(Malaya)

========================

My Take:

While I agree that Resado must be tried for any wrongdoing he did, I can not help but raise my eyebrows in mockery to the House of Representatives’ obvious maneuvering to throw in the blanket to protect the PDEA.  Watching the House inquiry on this matter convinces me that the House is not inquiring about the circumstances lying around the “Alabang Boys incident”.  Instead, they busy themselves on ruining Resado’s credibility and not accepting the possibility that Resado is actually saying an inch of truth.

The House panel has obviously reached a verdict.  They believe that GMA’s men Santiago and Gonzalez must be cleaned.  And the only way to do that is to make the public believe that the PDEA and DOJ is clean white and the only dirty being is Resado.

Kawawang Resado.  Tsk tsk tsk!

Gonzalez remark on Marcelino ‘dangerous’

January 16, 2009

Tamano: ‘It could be used to overturn drug cases’

By Christian V. Esguerra, Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:38:00 01/16/2009

MANILA, Philippines—The political opposition branded as “dangerous” the statement made by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez questioning the inclusion of military men in the fight against the drug menace.

“If Secretary Gonzalez is right, then it could be a basis for overturning all cases and convictions stemming from anti-drug operations,” opposition spokesperson Adel Tamano said.

If he were a defense lawyer in a drug case, he could use Gonzalez’s statement in asking that the case be dismissed “because the case is unconstitutional. So the statement of the secretary of justice is very dangerous,” Tamano said.

Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez said Gonzalez had “sabotaged” the operations of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“In apparently spiting an agency he now considers a nemesis, he forgot his role in the fight against illegal drugs. With him at the justice department’s helm, PDEA’s operations have been neutered,” the lawmaker said.

After Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors dismissed the charges against drug suspects Richard Brodett Jr., Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson, the PDEA claimed that it had received information the prosecutors had been bribed.

The agency’s allegation triggered a word war between PDEA and justice officials.

Palace: Constructive opinion

But Malacañang does not find anything wrong with the statement of Gonzalez that Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino’s participation in operations of the PDEA is “unconstitutional.”

Marcelino is the head of the PDEA Special Enforcement Service that arrested the so-called Alabang Boys in separate buy-bust operations in September last year.

Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesperson, Thursday said Gonzalez’s opinion was “constructive” and in fact should prompt the PDEA to review its policy of tapping soldiers as narcotics agents.

Reacting to Gonzalez’s statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Marcelino’s assignment to the PDEA was covered by a circular and was in line with Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres Jr., AFP spokesperson, said RA 9165 empowered the PDEA to enlist the support of government agencies and other offices, including the AFP, to support the agency’s drive against illegal drugs.

Covered by orders

A day after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered a ceasefire between the PDEA and the DOJ, Gonzalez came out swinging again, saying Marcelino had no business participating in the agency’s operations.

Gonzalez argued that as a soldier in active service, Marcelino was barred from holding another position in a civilian government agency.

Torres Thursday said the deployment of Marcelino to the PDEA was covered by appropriate orders, including a circular signed six years ago by then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Dionisio Santiago, now the PDEA chief.

The specific AFP regulations on the assignment of active officers to various government agencies have been incorporated into Circular No. 2 issued on March 12, 2003, according to Torres.

The circular prescribed that active officers could be detailed either as an aide-de camp, a security officer or a military assistant, Marcelino’s designation in the PDEA.

The circular described a military assistant as a commissioned officer of the AFP detailed to a civilian agency for “the purpose of lending professional or technical know-how regarding military matters.”

But not more than 0.5 percent of the total number of active officers and not more than 0.2 percent of the enlisted personnel corps could be deployed outside the military organization.

Soldiers deployed to civilian offices are placed under the AFP’s Headquarters Service Command, according to Torres.

“As far as the Armed Forces is concerned, our actions in detailing our personnel are covered by the circular,” he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“So it means that the deployment of Major Marcelino and other officers is covered by a specific regulation of the military,” he said.

The circular, of which only the first page was provided to reporters, was signed by Santiago and then adjutant general, retired Capt. Cesar Carranza, as ordered by the defense secretary.

Torres pointed out that the 2003 circular was issued following the enactment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Torres also cited other laws supporting the deployment of active military officers to government offices, which included President Ferdinand Marcos’ Executive Order No. 41 issued in 1966 and President Joseph Estrada’s memo issued in 1999.

The memo, dated Jan. 27, 1999, prohibited the assigning of military personnel outside the AFP without prior approval of the President.

Torres said the appointment of Marcelino to the PDEA post was approved by the President.

He added that it was either the President or the defense secretary who approved the assignment of active officers to various government offices.

Asked if Gonzalez’s comment on Marcelino compromised any legal action against the Alabang Boys, deputy spokesperson Golez said: “The justice secretary just aired his concern on that matter.”

“But in the meantime, government lawyers will be seriously studying the opinion verbally issued by the justice secretary,” he said.

Asked if Malacañang would censure Gonzalez for apparently violating the verbal truce, Golez said: “He knows what he’s doing.”

Drug czar for 2 weeks

Better coordination between the DOJ and the PDEA was among the marching orders of Ms Arroyo when she declared herself the country’s “drug czar” Tuesday until the bribery controversy was resolved.

Golez said Ms Arroyo would remain in that post for two weeks during which she would make sure that the “house is in order.”

“That is the most important thing,” he said, “for the law enforcers and prosecutors to make sure that they are in sync.” With reports from Alcuin Papa and Philip C. Tubeza

Gonzalez: Marcelino’s acts not valid

January 16, 2009

By Dona Pazzibugan, Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:49:00 01/15/2009

Filed Under: PDEA-DOJ bribery issue, Illegal drugs, Government offices & agencies, Military

MANILA, Philippines—Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino’s drug-bust operations for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) could be considered “unconstitutional” since active duty military officers like him are barred from holding position in a government agency, according to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

“As far as I’m concerned the acts done when you’re not authorized should not have any bearing whatsoever (because) you have no authority,” Gonzalez told reporters Wednesday.

He quoted Article XVI Sec. 5 paragraph 4 of the Constitution that provides that no active military officer may be appointed to any capacity in any civilian office including government agencies.

Marcelino said he was appointed to the post by Malacañang when the PDEA was beginning to build an organic staff and rise from an agency of borrowed personnel.

Marcelino said he was only following orders when assigned to the agency in 2007.

“Marines just go where we are told,” Marcelino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Wednesday.

The soldier, who had seen action in Mindanao, said he got the assignment on the request of the PDEA and that his detail went through the hierarchy of approving offices: The Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters, the Department of National Defense, and finally, Malacañang.

“It’s not up to us where we will be assigned. We can’t choose where we will be assigned,” he said.

Besides heading the agency’s Special Enforcement Service, Marcelino is also chief of the International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs Service and the Interagency Counternarcotics Operations Network.

Two other military officers, both Marcelino’s “mistahs” (classmates) in the Philippine Military Academy’s Bantay Laya class of 1994, hold key positions at the PDEA—one is acting director of PDEA’s Plans and Operations Service and the other, an army major, handles intelligence.

The soldiers also handle training of recruited agents.

Teodoro brought up question

Gonzalez said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro brought up the question over Marcelino’s authority to work in the PDEA at the Cabinet meeting Tuesday in which the controversy was discussed.

“Secretary Teodoro mentioned that he (Marcelino) is an active military officer (and) he is covered by the Constitution. That is a specific provision of the law. So if you would analyze that, all his acts are illegal. Unconstitutional and illegal,” Gonzalez said.

It was the PDEA Special Enforcement Service headed by Marcelino that arrested Richard Brodett Jr., Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson—the so-called Alabang Boys—in separate buy-bust operations in September last year.

Marcelino disclosed that he was offered bribes ranging from P3 million to P20 million for the release of the suspects. He said he rejected the offers.

Independent probe

The PDEA also claimed that a P50-million bribe led to the dismissal of the drug possession charges against the suspects, prompting a word war between the PDEA and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Even as the prosecutors vehemently denied the allegation, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered five justice officials and prosecutors to go on leave pending an “independent” investigation.

“I never raised this to the President because if it came from me it would be colored. It came about in the course of the (Cabinet) discussion. It was Secretary Teodoro who reacted,” Gonzalez said.

Asked if the arrest of the Alabang Boys could be considered void because Marcelino was the lead agent, Gonzalez said the matter could be questioned in court by the suspects.

“That’s now the subject of investigation and it has been raised before the Court of Appeals,” he said.

“I’m just saying that under the Constitution, he’s disqualified (from working in PDEA) because he’s an active duty (military) officer,” Gonzalez added.

Resign

“If he wants to stay in the PDEA, he should resign from the Armed Forces,” Gonzalez said.

“All the operations handled by Major Marcelino (in PDEA) could be considered invalid, unconstitutional unless you can consider that as a de facto act,” the justice secretary added.

“I don’t think the President can refuse to accept that because that is the Constitution,” Gonzalez added.

Told that active duty military officers were serving in other government offices, Gonzalez said this was the lookout of the heads of the government agencies involved.

Gonzalez said PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago, a former military chief of staff, could enlist the assistance of anyone except an active duty military officer.

“He can enlist under him (exiled communist party founder) Joma Sison,” Gonzalez quipped.

He said that at the Cabinet meeting, he confronted Santiago for failing to substantiate his claim that a P50-million bribery took place after the arrest of the Alabang Boys.

Charges of bribery have become a major point of debate after Santiago himself admitted at a hearing in the House of Representatives last week that the PDEA floated the P50-million alleged bribe in the media as part of its “psy-war” tactics against the DOJ prosecutors.

Study procedures

“That’s why they have to be properly educated on all procedures required under the (anti-illegal drugs) law,” the justice secretary said.

Right at the inquest, State Prosecutor John Resado already dismissed the drug possession charges against the three suspects due to lapses in the PDEA’s arrest procedure.

Reveal classmate’s name

The dismissal of the charges was upheld upon review by two more state prosecutors and ultimately by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing in the process.

In the House of Representatives, the committee on dangerous drugs is urging Marcelino to expose in public his mistah who offered him “tatlong manok (three chickens)” or P3 million to drop the charges against the Alabang Boys.

“He (Marcelino) has to eventually grapple with his gut in revealing who is this classmate of his who made the proposal. This is the gap in his otherwise brilliant testimony. His continued refusal will crack his credibility,” Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez said at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Golez’s proposal for Marcelino to reveal his mistah’s identity to the Office of the Ombudsman was adopted by the committee.

Golez said that it would be better that the Ombudsman take over the bribery probe because Marcelino might have qualms about cooperating with the National Bureau of Investigation, which is under the DOJ.

Marcelino revealed to Golez and other committee members the identity of his classmate in PMA Class of 1994 during an executive session last week.

Senior State Prosecutor Phillip Kimpo, vice chair of the DOJ’s Task Force on Anti-Illegal Drugs, accused Marcelino of “covering up” for his mistah, saying his refusal to name him was “suspicious.” With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Editorial Cartoon: (Drug Bribery Scandal) Batik sa DOJ

January 15, 2009

doj-boys

If i remember it correctly, some Ilonggo personalities has  their own reason to believe that the Gonzalezes are into illegal drugs.

But it remains a hot speculation up to this moment.

Palace: No sacred cows in drugs war

January 15, 2009

By TJ Burgonio, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:08:00 01/15/2009

Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice, Illegal drugs, PDEA-DOJ bribery issue

MANILA, Philippines—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the country’s new drug czar, has ordered antinarcotics authorities to crack down on big drug traffickers, including her supporters, Malacañang officials said Wednesday.

“There will be no sacred cows,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said when asked if Ms Arroyo would run after even her political allies suspected of trafficking.

Ermita said the drive would go all the way. “Anyone who will be involved, whoever they may be, they will have to account before the law.”

Ms Arroyo on Tuesday declared that she would oversee the anti-drug campaign and serve as anti-drug czar until the bribery scandal besetting the Department of Justice (DOJ) is resolved.

DOJ prosecutors have been accused of dismissing charges against three drug suspects, known as the Alabang Boys, after they allegedly received P50 million. The prosecutors, who have denied the allegation, are on leave and are under investigation.

Ermita said notorious drug rings on the order of battle of the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would be targeted in the all-out war against trafficking.

Get big-name traffickers

Ms Arroyo expected the “big-name traffickers” to be immediately identified in the fresh campaign, and “brought before the bar of justice,” he said.

Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco noted that only six of the 32 big drug syndicates identified by the PDEA had been dismantled as of last year.

Cuenco urged the President to bring down during her stint as the anti-drug czar the 26 big syndicates on the PDEA list.

“They have been identified but how come they have not been busted up to now?” asked Cuenco, vice chair of the House committee on dangerous drugs.

He also urged Ms Arroyo to beef up its prosecution of drug cases in view of its poor batting average in convicting drug traffickers and pushers over the past 10 years.

On Tuesday, Ms Arroyo also ordered the implementation of a raft of measures, including random drug tests on high school and college students, to curb drug abuse and trafficking across the country.

“Definitely that (major victories) is the target of our drug enforcement agencies, and with the President at the helm of the drive, you can be sure that we better have some victories,” Ermita told reporters.

“Otherwise this problem will linger on, and it’s to the detriment of society,” he said.

Semblance of permanence

An anticrime watchdog said Ms Arroyo must give her new role a “semblance of permanence” to efficiently get to the bottom of the illegal drug problem in the country.

“The case of the Alabang Boys must not be the basis of the President’s timetable in assuming the post. It is just the tip of the iceberg so she must hold on to her new role for a longer period of time,” said Dante Jimenez, chair of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

The VACC is set to pitch this idea to Malacañang in a position paper on Thursday. The decision to submit a recommendation to Ms Arroyo was arrived at a board meeting Wednesday.

The group expects its position to be opposed by various groups and personalities as the elections are just around the corner. “As we all know, illegal drugs are among the best sources of election money,” Jimenez said.

He noted that 80 percent of the heinous crimes in the country were drug-related.

Unimpressed

Others are not impressed by the President naming herself anti-drug czar.

“It’s bad if she will be unable to curb the problem of illegal drugs in the country. She might even be tagged as a recipient of bribes,” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said.

Pimentel said Ms Arroyo should instead give the job to PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago.

“Santiago has a good reputation and only needs a no-nonsense backing by the President. I think he will be able to do a good job,” he said.

No wonder woman

By naming herself as anti-drug czar, the President has turned into “micro-managing,” said opposition Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

“That is not good for somebody who is supposed to run the government. She’s no wonder woman who could do everything,” the senator said in Tacloban City on his way to various towns in the provinces of Samar and Leyte.

Escudero said similar moves in the past did not lead to results. “There is no such thing as a drug czar in our administrative code. That is only a title and not a position,” he said.

He said that every time the country faced a big problem, the President would name a czar. Ms Arroyo earlier named Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap as rice czar at the height of the rice crisis and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes as energy czar when the country was suffering from high fuel prices.

Escudero also warned of more delays in the investigation of the Alabang Boys’ case. “Most agencies in government won’t move without her imprimatur,” he said.

Only 24 convictions

In the House of Representatives, Ilocos Norte Rep. Roquito Ablan, chair of the committee on dangerous drugs, pointed out that the government had only made 24 convictions out of the thousands of drug cases filed as far back as 1998.

In his report to the President, Dangerous Drugs Board Chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III blamed the anti-drug war’s abysmal performance on the “nonappearance of prosecution witnesses, insufficiency of evidence, irregularity or illegality of arrest, search and seizure, and inconsistencies in testimony.”

Jefferson Soriano Ablan, commander of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, wrote the House committee about the “seeming unabated dismissal of illegal drug cases especially those of high-valued targets and high profile personalities even at the prosecution level.”

Legislative reforms

Representative Ablan said the committee would come up with legislative reforms aimed at strengthening the tools of the drug war and at reconciling the prosecution and enforcement side of the campaign.

The committee members suggested bigger budget allocations for the PDEA and police agents, setting up of an independent prosecution arm for drug cases, and using latest technology such as surveillance cameras to beef up cases against drug pushers and traffickers caught in the drug busts.

The committee would also consider the President’s proposal to conduct random drug tests in schools.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga suggested that Congress members undergo the same tests to set an example among public officials.

“How can we have an effective investigation of drug cases and legislate laws meant to address the drug menace if the public will perceive some of us as drug users?” asked Barzaga.

Ablan and Cuenco shot down the proposal. With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Jocelyn R. Uy in Manila, and Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas

Editorial Cartoon: (Drug Bribery Scandal) Rambol

January 14, 2009

rambol

Editorial Cartoon: One of the Things Frat Brothers Do

January 13, 2009

meddler

Follow-up or Meddle. You choose.

Congressmen siding with anti-drug agents

January 10, 2009

By Sammy Martin, Reporter

If it were up to them, lawmakers said Friday, they would have skewered a lawyer of the “Alabang Boys” for making a mockery of the country’s criminal-justice system.

Members of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs said Friday it was the call of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez who failed them, and worse said that they were “biased” against him on his handling of the case of the “Alabang Boys.”

Rep. Antonio Cuenco of Cebu City, during an interview, said that Gonzalez should have berated Felisberto Verano Jr., the lawyer of two of the three boys—Richard Santos Brodett and Joseph Ramirez Tecson—but instead accused the House committee of fault-finding in Verano preparing a draft release order for the release of drug suspects Brodett and Tecson and the third accused, Jorge Jordana Joseph.

“I am a little bit surprised with the behavior of our dear friend [Gonzalez],” Cuenco added. “He should have at least reprimanded Verano, who [acts] as if he is a senior staff of the Justice department.”

The Justice secretary, also a former lawmaker, should have “scolded him [Verano], raised hell [against the lawyer] and castigated him. I don’t know why he [Gonzalez] did not do that,” the congressman said.

It was found that Verano, who was not authorized to prepare any such order, had also written the draft release order on pilfered stationery of the Justice department. Gonzalez said that he did not sign the order, although he had seen and read it.

The “Alabang Boys” lawyer also was discovered to have used office facilities of his fraternity brother and Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor in writing the draft release order.

Rep. Roilo Golez of Parañaque City, who claims he respects Gonzalez, was shocked at the accusation of the Justice chief that the members of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs were ganging up on him.

Biased congressmen

During a recent interview with reporters, Gonzalez said members of the committee headed by Rep. Roque Ablan Jr. of Ilocos Norte were all finding loopholes in a resolution signed by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, Senior State Prosecutor Philip Kimpo and State Prosecutor John Resado, who had written the document.

The resolution dismissed the drug charges against the three accused. The dismissal apparently made Verano think of pulling a fast one on the Justice department by preparing the draft release order himself. It spawned charges that Justice officials, state prosecutors supposedly among them, had been bribed with P50 million in exchange for their authorizing the release of the three young drug suspects.

“The problem with some of the congressmen is that they were biased already from the very start . . . Even the grammar of the supposed resolution, they were attacking it,” Gonzalez said.

“You no longer have probity when you make conclusions while you are still investigating. [You] make pronouncements already. That is the reason why I am not happy,” he added. Gonzalez refused to name the lawmakers he was referring to.

‘Attack’ on Marcelino

Golez, in a text message, said the Justice secretary “should not have gone ballistic” at young Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, whom the congressman said was just doing his job. Marcelino this week testified during a committee hearing on the case of the “Alabang Boys,” insisting, for one, that entrapments of the “Alabang Boys” were carried out according to the law.

Blancaflor also on Friday said that the alleged P50-million bribery scandal rocking the Justice department could be part of a demolition job bankrolled by some influential groups that he had crossed in the performance of his duties.

He expressed belief that he was the primary target of the groups as shown by misinformation that dragged his name in the controversy, “making it appear that I used strong-arm tactics against [PDEA] for the release of the “Alabang Boys.”’

“It [demolition job] could be the handiwork of people or groups affected by my campaign against human trafficking and extra-judicial killings,” Blancaflor said.

As the head of Task Force 211, he added, he had stepped on the toes of many influential personalities and even put in jail some of them.

“In the course of my duties as chairman of Task Force 211, I have sent to jail military and police officers and politicians, among others. They have an axe to grind against me and they could have seized this opportunity to get back at me,” Blancaflor said.

He added that he has some names in mind but refused to disclosed them until such time that he has gathered enough evidence against them.

Task Force 211 was created by President Gloria Arroyo to resolve cases involving political violence and extra-judicial killings.

Blancaflor was linked to the “Alabang Boys” controversy on Marcelino’s diclosure that the Justice undersecretary had called him to inquire why the PDEA had not yet released Brodett, Jo­seph and Tecson, all scions of wealthy families.

He admitted to having made the call but said that “it was a simple query” on his part, nothing more, nothing less.

“The truth of the matter was, I was only performing a valid and legal function by inquiring from PDEA why the December 2, 2008 resolution was not yet implemented three weeks after such was made. I was informed by the staff of Director General Dionisio Santiago that an appeal was being made. So I asked for a copy and I left it at that,” Blancaflor said in an earlier statement. Santiago is chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Release order

On December 2, 2008, the Justice department issued the resolution signed by Chief State Prosecutor Zuño ordering the release of the three suspects, citing, among others, illegal arrest and search.

But allegations cropped that some prosecutors and drug-agency officials were bribed with P50 million in exchange for the dismissal of the case. It prompted the Justice secretary to call for an investigation.

Gonzalez said that the three suspects would remain in detention pending clearance and final approval of the dismissal resolution from his office.

The three drug suspects are detained at the agency’s detention center. They were charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensivie Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, a “non-bailable” offense punishable by “reclusion perpetua” or life imprisonment.
–WITH WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL(ManilaTimes)

Prosecutors slam PDEA

January 10, 2009

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)

Disbarment case filed vs ‘Alabang Boys’ lawyer

January 9, 2009

MANILA — Two anti-crime groups on Thursday asked that Felisberto Verano Jr., lawyer for the so-called “Alabang Boys” who were arrested in drug operations in September last year, be disbarred.

Meanwhile, because of the controversial “Alabang Boys” drug case involving three suspects from prominent families, lawmakers on Thursday said they are open to restoring the death penalty for drug traffickers.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed a disbarment complaint with the Supreme Court (SC) against Verano, while the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) urged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to subject the lawyer to a disbarment probe.

The IBP earlier said it will investigate Verano for possible disbarment after he admitted that he drafted a release order for his clients, Richard Brodett and Joseph Tecson, once a complaint has been filed with the lawyers’ group.

If the IBP finds probable cause for the disbarment, it will then endorse the complaint to the SC as an administrative matter, which will then dispose the case accordingly.

The High Court, for its part, is waiting the National Bureau of Investigation’s report on the matter before taking any action against Verano.

Brodett and Tecson, who along with Jorge Joseph, were arrested by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in two separate buy-bust operations in Cubao, Quezon City and in Alabang, Muntinlupa after yielding 60 tablets of Ecstasy, packets of marijuana, and sachets of cocaine.

According to VACC chairman Dante Jimenez, Verano’s using such kind of tactics should be stopped.

“What Attorney Verano has done is wrong and a grave breach of what we expect a lawyer to do, a grave breach of ethics,” he said.

In seeking Verano’s disbarment, Jimenez said the lawyer committed two “grave mistakes that undermine the public’s trust and view of the profession.”

“The number one violation he committed is when he drafted the release order, he even admitted that, when he has no right or legal authority to do that. And second, when he used stationery with a letterhead of the Department of Justice in drafting the release order. That letterhead is a government property and he has no business appropriating that for his use since he is a private lawyer and not a government lawyer,” he said.

These, he said, are more than enough reason for Verano to be stricken off the lawyer’s roll.

“We will push through with the filing. A lawyer like Attorney Verano is one of the reasons why the people have lost trust in the country’s justice system,” added Jimenez.

For his part, CCW head Jose Malgar-Villegas said the IBP should remove Verano from their list for his act.

“Our complaint before the IBP is ‘conduct unbecoming’ of a member of the bar and ‘unethical practice’,” Villegas said.

IBP president Feliciano Bautista, in a radio interview, explained that any decision they will make is only recommendatory to the SC.

“The Supreme Court has the final say,” Bautista said.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said he is open to reviving capital punishment as a way to stop the drug menace in the country.

“Personally, I am seriously considering death penalty for drug suppliers and dealers,” he said in a text message.

Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino said he would file a bill on Monday (Jan. 12) seeking to impose death penalty on drug traffickers.

“Unlike murderers or rapists who may be reformed, drug lords have the capacity to live comfortable lives in prison while business goes on. They knowingly earn from the misery of others,” he said.

Even Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Vicente “Tito” Sotto III wants to restore death penalty against convicted drug traffickers.

Sotto said he was constantly lobbying for the reimposition of the death penalty after it was repealed by the 13th Congress.

For his part, PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago is also pushing for the return of death penalty, but this time against drug pushers.

Santiago said this was “very urgent,” since drug use in the country was a “security threat.”

In June 2006, President Arroyo signed the abolition of the death penalty.

Up to this time, there are still debates between those who want to retain it and those who do not think it is a deterrent to criminality.

There are also lawmakers like Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman who are not in favor to revive the death penalty.

Lagman criticized the move as a “knee-jerk” reaction to the controversial drug case involving the arrest of the “Alabang Boys” and the dismissal of charges against them amid allegations that officials from the Department of Justice (DoJ) and PDEA had been bribed.(AH/PNA/Sunnex)

Congress Hearing on PDEA-DOJ Bribery Scandal(6)

January 7, 2009

Santiago claimed that Mrs Brodett texted one of his men saying “ano pa ba ang problema ng Gen. Santiago na yan e nabayaran na siya.”

Casiño asked Brodett if where did she get the idea the Santiago is already ‘paid’.

Brodett requested for her legal adviser, and so the solon allowed Mrs Brodett to skip answering his query.

Brodett’s relative attended the hearing too to clarify that they are not into drug pushing.  They confirmed that the Brodett in Alabang Boys is really a drug pusher and drug user.

Nagyabang na rin si Santiago sa kanyang intel work service, in his attempt to strengthen up his credibility.  He claimed that he’s the one who took the CPP purge ‘document’ seriously back then and it gave way, according to him, of the creation of the Operation Zombie.  He even cited the case of ABB then that he is the operator of its (ABB) ‘downfall.’

Congress Hearing on PDEA-DOJ Bribery Scandal(5)

January 7, 2009

General Santiago said that they opened the car in PDEAs compound and claimed that the one who opened the car was Brodett’s parents, and in th process of opening the car, a package of suspected drugs was discovered.

Resado countered that according to a report filed by the security agency of Ayala-Alabang, the car was opened there and the PDEA agent discovered a suspected package of drugs there.  He raised this point as he points at santiago’s statement as contradictory to the security agency’s report.

Congress Hearing on PDEA-DOJ Bribery Scandal(4)

January 7, 2009

Casiño is asking.

cases with automatic review procedure is smuggling and drug cases, said gonzalez.

Asked verano is if he has a slight idea that gonzalez may favor his resolution.  verano said that gonzalez gave him hope by saying that gonzalez said that he may study it.

Gonzalez countered it.

it is now a he said-she said case.

verano reiterated that he is just taking a chance.

on his remark that he cannot act on the resolution because it already made the headlines, gonzalez stressed that his main reason is because he has not read just yet the said resolution.

zuño reiterated the lapses in pdea.  the pdea brought the evidence to their compound and conducted the inventory there, not in the scene of arrest.

pdea lawyer stated that it is not illegal.  no law is saying that its not proper to do the inventory of evidence away from the scene of the arrest.  but gonzalez earlier said that this act put some question marks to the motive of the law enforcers doing this kind of trick.

prosecutor resado pointed out that pdea concucted a story.  resado said that its just a one-man bust because according to him, the other team was held for questioning at the subdivisions gate.

resado earned some solons hire because of his belief that there is no legitimate buy-bust operation happened.

casiño interjected by questioning zuño about resado’s actions.

Congress Hearing on PDEA-DOJ Bribery Scandal(3)

January 7, 2009

The frat relationship between blancaflor and verano was raised by Rep Teodoro.

Verano admitted it.

verano sent the controversial resolution into blancaflors office hoping maybe that blancaflor can deliver it to gonzalez.  blancaflor is the bridge here, as i see it.  verano used his frat relation with blancaflor for the usec to deliver it to gonzalez’ table.

unfortunately for verano, blancaflor is not around so the lawyer asked payoyo, blancaflors secretary, to deliver it to gonzalez.

that’s the scene floating at this very point.

addendum…

payoyo contacted blancaflor, and her boss advised her to follow up prosecutor resado, in a way giving me an insight that blancaflor in a way, acted as a good frat brod.

blancaflor is guilty here.

gonzalez denied talking to verano, regarding the controversial resolution.  gonzalez is steering clear here, and he’s clear, as far as the investigation is going now.

Congress Hearing on PDEA-DOJ Bribery Scandal(2)

January 7, 2009

Atty Verano attended the hearing too as a resource person and not as a legal counsel of the Alabang boys.

Gave a backgrounder of the case first.  Generally stating that the PDEA abused their power.  So he drafted the controversial resolution for the release of the Alabang Boys.

Admitted that its not a normal procedure and explained that he only did it to speed up their case.  He added that if he can convince the DOJ Secretary that day, the secretary can readily sign the order, and made it an official document.  Astig!  This shows an existing kutsabahan between the top honcho of the departments and abogado de kampanilya’s.  The missing link here is the outright admittance of it.  I dare say that Verano is not the only lawyer doing this, and gonzalez is not the only gov’t officer signing it (I think Gonzalez signed some same-natured draft resolution in the past — this government is corrupt for chrissake.)   And that’s my opinion.

You see it was all stage-prepared!  A presscon is to follow.

But Gonzalez said that he did’nt sign the said resolution.

Verano can kiss goodbye to his name and profession with this.

But the lawyer stood his ground.  He maintained that he is just a bit overzealous.  Golez countered that overzealousnes put some gov’t law enforcers in trouble because it causes human rights violations and legal blunders .

Congress Hearing on PDEA-DOJ Bribery Scandal(1)

January 7, 2009

Raul Gonzalez attended todays hearing.

Declared that he’s not there to defend their prosecutors, but in a way lambasted the PDEA for not arresting the bribers Marcelino has stated yesterday.

Gonzalez proposes a tight coordination within the different legal units of government institutions.

——-