Ex-PDEA agent Morales released from Senate detention

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Ex-PDEA agent Morales released from Senate detention
Ex-PDEA agent Jonathan Morales.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Jonathan Morales – the dismissed Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent who linked President Marcos to drug use – was released from detention in time for the Senate’s session break.

Morales and a fellow detained witness, former National Police Commission staff Eric Santiago, were released from Senate custody on Thursday night, according to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Roberto Ancan.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada visited Morales on Wednesday at his detention room before his scheduled release, based on a video released by the senator’s office.

“Pusong mamon ako (I am softhearted),” Estrada said when asked why he allowed Morales’ release.

In a statement, Estrada said he considered Morales’ health condition and age in allowing his release from Senate custody.

“Despite the seriousness of the issues that former PDEA agent Jonathan Morales is facing before the Senate – particularly his lying under oath before the committee on public order and dangerous drugs – I have decided to also give my consent to releasing him from Senate detention because of humanitarian considerations,” Estrada said.

“May this serve as a lesson for witnesses that lying before a Senate hearing is unacceptable,” he added.

It was Estrada who cited Morales in contempt for lying during Monday’s public order and dangerous drugs committee hearing on an alleged 2012 PDEA operation report that leaked on social media.

Morales was ordered detained for refusing to admit he misrepresented himself in his PDEA personal data sheet by not divulging his dismissal from the police service.

In a TikTok video shared by Estrada’s office, Morales was quoted as saying that all was well between him and Estrada after their heated exchange in the last hearing.

The STAR could not independently confirm the TikTok video of Morales’ release taken by a vlogger.

During Monday’s hearing, Morales took offense at Estrada’s questioning and brought up the senator’s pork barrel scam case, where Estrada was acquitted of plunder but convicted of bribery.

“Don’t meddle with my case. That’s my problem. Mind your own cases,” Estrada responded in Filipino.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s committee is investigating the leakage of PDEA operation reports, but critics said it has turned into a political witch hunt because one leaked document pertained to an alleged operation report for drugs against then senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and actress Maricel Soriano at a Makati condominium in 2012. Both denied the report.

Dela Rosa’s colleagues have cautioned him against giving Morales a platform because of his shady background and record of spreading lies.

Marcos himself addressed Morales’ claims, calling the dismissed PDEA agent a “professional liar” paid to make accusations.

Morales claimed he prepared the document based on an informant and that the operation was scuttled because of a call from then executive secretary Paquito Ochoa.

During the last hearing, Ochoa denied knowing Morales and calling up PDEA to stop the operation against Marcos because of his links to First Lady Liza Marcos, his former law partner.

New Senate Electoral Tribunal

Five senators – Imee Marcos, JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid and Robin Padilla – took their oaths before the Supreme Court as new members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) following the Senate leadership change.

On X, Marcos tweeted that she took her oath before Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen on Thursday.

Binay posted on Facebook her oath taking with colleagues Ejercito, Lapid and Cayetano.

Binay said she hopes to learn from the SC justices who are members of SET – Justices Leonen, Ramon Hernando and Henri Inting.

Injured foot?

The ouster plot against Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri that cost him his Senate presidency has taken an unexpected twist – all due to an action star’s foot.

Talk is rife on social media that what triggered senators’ discontent at Zubiri’s leadership was his refusal to allow virtual attendance for Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., who is nursing a reopened Achilles tendon wound in his foot.

A video of an undated session day went viral showing that Zubiri and Revilla talked about the latter’s request for virtual attendance, only for the former to turn it down because a foot injury “isn’t as bad as a coma.”

“We’re rules-based,” Zubiri said in the video, prompting Revilla, who was wearing an ankle brace, to literally put his foot down and lament the lack of respect: “Bastusan na tayo dito, eh.”

The STAR could not independently verify the video.

The video started rumors that this incident prompted the “Artista” bloc – composed of Revilla and fellow action stars turned senators Lapid, Estrada and Padilla – to turn against Zubiri and swing the numbers for new Senate President Francis Escudero, who got 14 senators on his side.

It was Escudero who defended Revilla’s request during the May 14 session, which was later granted by the body against Zubiri’s wishes.

Dela Rosa fanned speculation that this triggered the ouster plot.

In a GMA News interview on Wednesday, Dela Rosa denied his “PDEA leaks” investigation triggered Malacañang’s discontent with Zubiri, who claimed he was demoted for offending the “powers that be.”

Dela Rosa pointed instead at Zubiri’s stickler-for-the-rules attitude that irked Revilla, who in turn got the sympathy of his fellow actor-senators.

“When Senator Migz denied Revilla’s request, that triggered the ‘artista’ bloc and caused them to harbor ill feelings against him,” Dela Rosa said.

Reducing the ouster plot to a “petty” cause did not sit well with Zubiri’s ally Binay, who mocked the tale of Revilla’s “powerful” twisted foot unseating a Senate president.

“It is weird to think that of all conspiracy theories that came out since the Senate coup, a senator’s foot is the trigger why Senator Migz was booted out of his post. The best or worst interest of the nation is just a foot away,” Binay said yesterday.

Binay said Escudero’s allies are making Zubiri’s ouster worthy of political drama by painting Revilla’s foot as “more powerful than the powers-that-be.”

“If that is the reason for Senator Migz’s ouster, then we can say they have really put their best foot forward. If a sore foot can inspire such decisive action, just imagine what a fully functioning pair of feet could do,” Binay said. “But for now, the foot has spoken. Let us all unite behind Sen. Bong Revilla’s foot.”

Binay vowed that the “Solid 7” – or those who opposed Zubiri’s ouster – would be formidable whether or not it chooses to be a minority or independent bloc in the Senate.

“Solid 7 will continue to march forward in the 19th Congress. We will stand on two feet, or one foot. Injured or not, rest assured, we will always step up,” she said.

On his Viber group with reporters, Revilla merely laughed off the puns that poked fun at his foot injury, which is going down in history as a powerful political weapon.

“It is one of the triggers, but there are several problems already. Let us move on from the issue,” Revilla said, vowing to put his best foot forward.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with