Vera files: NBI clears Gonzalez in 'Alabang Boys' scandal
- Ellen Tordesillas () - January 14, 2009 - 12:00am

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has cleared Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and excluded him from the investigation into the alleged multi-million-peso bribe supposedly paid to secure the release of three suspected drug pushers known as the “Alabang Boys.”

Arnel Dalumpines, head of the NBI Special Task Force investigating the reported bribery of justice officials and personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), told VERA Files that Gonzalez was not in his list of people to be summoned for questioning. 

“We are not investigating Secretary Gonzalez because he was the one who ordered the investigation,” Dalumpines said. 

Asked if, in effect, Gonzalez has been cleared of any involvement in the bribery case, Dalumpines said, “Yes, he is cleared.”

Dalumpines added that Gonzalez was excluded from the probe because he was not a signatory to the Dec. 2, 2008 Department of Justice resolution which dismissed the complaint against Richard Brodett, Joseph Tecson, and Jorge Joseph.

The three were arrested allegedly in possession of the illegal drugs Ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine in a buy-bust operation in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City and in Cubao, Quezon City in September 2008.

The Dec. 2 resolution bore the signatures of chief state prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, senior state prosecutor Philip Kimpo, and state prosecutor John Resado.

Although Gonzalez did not sign the resolution, he met on Dec. 23 with Felisberto Verano, lawyer of the accused.

Verano faces disbarment for drafting an order, printed on DOJ stationery, setting his clients free. That order appeared on Gonzalez’s desk and awaited his signature.

Meanwhile, Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, head of PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service, expressed doubts that the NBI Task Force could conduct an impartial investigation on the alleged bribery of the Alabang Boys.

The NBI is an agency under the Department of Justice.

Marcelino said the NBI has been making it appear that he was intentionally avoiding the investigation, when he had already met with one of the investigators, lawyer Dulce Ricafort.

PDEA’s lawyers have advised Marcelino to refer investigators to minutes of the hearing conducted by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Illegal Drugs where he and other PDEA officials have testified.

The first subpoena he got from the NBI ordered him to appear on Jan. 6, the same day as the House hearing. Marcelino said he had to cut short another anti-drug operation to rush to the hearing.

The second appointment with the NBI was for Jan. 9. This time he was summoned to a meeting by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Alexander Yano.

Marcelino said when he returned to his office from the meeting with Yano, he found Ricafort and another NBI personnel waiting for him. 

Ricafort had assured Marcelino the investigation would be an impartial one, and that Gonzalez would also be asked to make a statement.

The Marine officer, who is on detail with PDEA, said Ricafort agreed to talk on an unofficial and personal basis.

He then showed her a text message from someone who introduced himself as a security guard of one of the accused. The text message said the supposed P50-million bribe money was actually the fund meant for Christmas bonuses of employees in a company owned by one of the suspects.

“That was raw, unverified information,” Marcelino said.

When Ricafort asked him to provide the name of the security guard, Marcelino said he felt he could not deal with her on an unofficial basis, and that she continued talking to him as an NBI investigator.

Marcelino noted the DOJ could exert “coercive and administrative” pressure on Ricafort and the investigation.

The two agreed that Marcelino would submit an affidavit on Jan. 14, and provide the names of PDEA people involved in the Alabang operation.

Marcelino added: “If they (DOJ and NBI) had any sense of delicadeza, they should have declined the order to investigate.”

Dalumpines, who insists that they are “very objective,” could not hide his anger towards PDEA, especially Marcelino.

He said that the burden was on Marcelino to prove his own accusations.

Dalumpines said PDEA’s decision to refer NBI investigators to the minutes of House hearings was not feasible, because it would take at least two weeks for them to get the transcript.

He added that so far, the Task Force had nothing to show for its investigation, because no one wanted to talk, and that statements were being made only for the media.

“Which Juan de la Cruz do I talk to? No one wants to talk,” Dalumpines said in Filipino.

With or without Marcelino’s affidavit, Dalumpines said he is submitting his report to NBI Director Nestor Mantaring on Friday. – With Artemio Dumlao, Ronilo Pamonag

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