Another booboo

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Here is another booboo of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA): The Muntinlupa City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed one of several drug cases filed against Canadian Ariana Golesorkhi, one of two foreigners arrested during raids on two houses in the posh Ayala Alabang village.

Assistant City Prosecutor Brenda Rhea Mangahis said the charge that Golesorkhi maintained a drug den within the village lacked “probable cause.”

Mangahis cited a Supreme Court ruling on what constitutes a drug den:

“It is not enough that dangerous drugs or drug paraphernalia were found in the place. More than (that)... it must be clearly shown that the accused is the maintainer or operator or owner of the place where dangerous drugs are used or sold.”

Prosecutor Mangahis was circumspect: How could the Canadian have managed a drug den inside the tightly secured village, where every visitor to the place is questioned by guards at the gate?

The coming and going of many people in Golesorkhi’s house – if it were a drug den – would have caught the attention of the guards and other residents.

The residents, especially, have become wary of illegal activities within their village, where some houses were raided by the police in the past.

Some of the PDEA agents who raided Golesorkhi’s house, and that of French national Aurelien Cythere, were later arrested by the police for recycling seized drugs.

It’s a common practice among many anti-narcotics operatives to invent or fabricate more serious charges against suspects caught possessing illegal drugs.

The “narcs” can concoct cases such as drug manufacturing or maintaining a drug den so that their “accomplishments” end up in their 201 files.

The 201 File has an employee’s personal information and work history, including accomplishments.

The other purpose of dangling before the respondents more serious cases – and therefore heavier penalties from the courts – is to have them cough up huge amounts of bribe money so that only mere possession is filed with the government prosecutor’s office or the courts.

It’s then easy for a respondent in a drug case to be acquitted in court for drug possession or get off with a much lighter sentence.

Methinks the Canadian, French and Filipino suspects that the PDEA arrested didn’t come up with the money their captors demanded.

*      *      *

By the way, why is the PDEA’s internal affairs office taking so long to come up with the results of the investigation into the looting of the houses they raided in Ayala Alabang?

This columnist was told that PDEA director general Moro Lazo had ordered a speedy investigation to pinpoint who among the members of the raiding team looted the two places.

So many items were stolen – including two French bulldogs, meat in the fridge for making steaks, watches, clothes in the closets and rubber shoes. It’s safe to assume that many raiders took part in the looting.

The French bulldogs need special food and needs and would die if not well cared for. What happened to them?

Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Act, the inventorying of seized drugs and other items in a place raided should be made in the presence of a media representative, any elected barangay official and a representative from the Department of Justice.

Was that provision of the law complied with when PDEA agents raided the two houses in Ayala Alabang?

*      *      *

It seems the drug problem was not eliminated during the time of president Digong Duterte because certain elements in the Philippine National Police (PNP) carried out executions of drug pushers and traffickers not out of a sense of duty, but because they earned big money for each kill.

A ranking PNP official, who talked on condition of anonymity, said that after killing a drug suspect, they would call a certain number and tell somebody at the other end of the line whom they had killed.

They would then be told that money would be deposited in the bank accounts of those who took part in the execution of a drug suspect.

What that police official told this columnist tallies well with the recent report of writer Antonio J. Montalvan II of Rappler, a news website.

Montalvan said police generals and colonels openly talked about their exploits at the golf courses.

“In between shots on the fairways, police secrets would be revealed. The officers were amazingly honest about their emerging job descriptions in the Duterte drug war. They revealed how much their wallets were fattened by drug kill reward money. They would even intimate who the bagman was,” Montalvan wrote.

The PNP official, who I interviewed several months ago, said that the reward money depended on the rank of their victim in the drug totem pole.

The higher the rank, the bigger the price, the PNP official said.

Then why was the drug problem not eliminated?

The answer to that question is simple: Those the police killed were leaders or members of a syndicate that was a rival of the group that hired them.

In short, the police were bounty hunters for some syndicates.

*      *      *

Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat, PNP deputy director of intelligence, has traded places with Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

It was an unprecedented move: two top-ranking police officials swapping posts!

The changing of places of two former classmates from the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1992 was announced by PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin. Supposedly, Caramat had to attend to a family concern first before he could become the CIDG chief.

Why did Azurin allow such a setup?

Higher-ups should decide with finality which officials should be assigned to which positions and not have them switch positions just like that.

The perception that Azurin is a weak leader seems accurate.

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