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Opinion

Caught red-handed

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

An official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), his two subordinates and their driver were caught red-handed by the police. They were arrested because of P9.8 million worth of confiscated shabu (meth) they were allegedly trying to resell in the streets.

Nabbed in a sting operation in their own office were Enrique Lucero, head of the PDEA Southern District Office; anti-narcotics agents Anthony Vic Alabastro and Jaireh Llaguno and driver Mark Warren Mallo.

Karma, the universal law of cause and effect, seems to have come early for the four men. They were the same guys who raided a house in posh Ayala Alabang village suspected of being a shabu den.

Lucero, Alabastro and Llaguno reportedly cleaned out the house of valuables, according to Canadian Ariana Golesorkhi, one of the two foreigners in custody for alleged drug trafficking.

All the looted valuables didn’t have anything to do with drug traffic.

Consider the following items that were allegedly taken: a Rolex watch, all the clothes they could find, cash amounting to P300,000, food in the refrigerator (including meat for steaks), grocery items on the shelves, alcoholic drinks, two French bulldogs worth millions of pesos, brand-new car speakers, coffee machines, an electronic piano, a microwave oven, an iPad, a PlayStation video game computer, a laptop and home decors.

The two dogs need to be fed a special kind of food, or else they will die.

I was told that the same thing happened to the house owned by Mark Anthony Sayarot that was rented out to foreigners.

Sayarot would not say what valuables were looted in his house.

Now that the cat is out of the bag – the revelation of looting by PDEA agents – I challenge the PDEA central office to protect the suspects from harm.

The colleagues of these alleged looters might retaliate against the two foreigners and Sayarot.

It’s the responsibility of PDEA Director General Moro Lazo to protect the suspects from fellow anti-narcotics agents who may harm them.

*      *      *

The evil practice by law enforcers of looting places of valuables during a raid is all too common.

Law enforcement agents who don’t touch things of crime suspects in a raid of their houses or dens can be counted by one’s finger.

Whenever there’s a plan to raid a place owned by a wealthy suspect, many law enforcers – police, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation and PDEA – volunteer for the job. This happens even if they’re not part of the team.

The reason is obvious: they go to rob the place of money and valuables.

These badged kleptomaniacs just copied the actions of the old fogeys or their superiors who condone their thievery.

I know whereof I speak because I was once a police reporter.

Back then, my fellow reporters and I were not allowed to go with a raiding team, or a team assigned to recover money looted from the bank for obvious reasons.

*      *      *

Did you know why one of the investigators was sent to the scene of the massacre of 11 members of the notorious Kuratong Baleleng holdup and kidnap gang squealed on his fellow cops?

When he arrived at the scene, policeman Eduardo delos Reyes found the van containing the dead suspects looted of all vital evidence: guns, money and other valuables.

There were unconfirmed reports that one of the leaders of the apprehending team got away with $2 million in cold cash. The money came from banks and armored cars that the gang held up.

All that was left for Delos Reyes were two M-16 rifles, which were made to appear as the ones used by the suspects in allegedly shooting it out with their police pursuers.

Other vital evidence was missing, such as the large amounts of cash confiscated from the suspects.

Actually, there was no shootout, as claimed by the police; it was a turkey shoot. Some of the dead suspects were even handcuffed.

The suspects were arrested earlier in their hideout in Quezon City in a raid that caught them off-guard. Most members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang were former soldiers from Mindanao.

*      *      *

The PDEA, created in 2002 through a law passed by Congress, is as corrupt – if not even more corrupt – than the Philippine National Police (PNP).

With very few exceptions, PDEA agents – like their counterparts in the PNP anti-narcotics units – usually sell the drugs they confiscated.

One former top PDEA official who recycled illegal drugs they confiscated during president Digong Duterte’s time has even been appointed to the Bureau of Customs.

Why this ex-PDEA executive was not apprehended when he was on the PNP drugs list but was instead appointed to the customs bureau is a mystery.

*      *      *

Former comedian-turned-Quezon City councilor Roderick Paulate has been meted out a 60-year sentence by the Sandiganbayan for hiring “ghost” employees.

Paulate is one of the few guys who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Actually, many local officials – governors, vice governors, provincial board members, city and town mayors, vice mayors and councilors – have fictitious people in their payroll. These are called ghost employees.

The money purportedly paid to these non-existent employees goes into the pockets of these corrupt officials.

*      *      *

The smuggled frozen meat products from China and Hong Kong recently seized by the Bureau of Customs should not be put up for public auction. They should be sold through the Kadiwa centers.
Many poor people will have food on their tables for Noche Buena.

The confiscated meat products are worth P63 million, so it’s not something to sneer at.

PDEA

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