Lawyer nabbed for marijuana
Iris Hazel M. Mascardo (The Freeman) - November 16, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  A Cebuano lawyer was arrested at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 10 a.m. yesterday for possession of marijuana.

The Office of Transport Security (OTS) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested Atty. Caesar Tabotabo after security check found out he was in possession of dried marijuana leaves stuffed in a cigarette pack.

Tabotabo was supposed to fly to Manila.

 “Bago papasok ang isang pasahero, papasa muna sa initial security screening checkpoint… Nung dumaan si attorney sa screening na yon, may tumunog…Nung tinignan nila yung pocket nya, pinalabas yung nasa pocket nya kung ano yung tumunog na yon, nilabas nya yung isang pack ng cigarette (A passenger has to go through security screening checkpoint. The detector sounded when the lawyer passed through it. When they asked him to empty his pockets, he pulled a pack of cigarette out),” said Intelligence Officer II Jojit Tubbali of PDEA, quoting the OTS.

When asked what was inside the cigarette pack, Tabotabo reportedly hesitated, which made the security personnel suspicious. Tabotabo eventually laid the cigarette pack on a table and that was when OTS personnel inspected it and found dried marijuana leaves inside.

“Nung nag-resist sya, ang ginawa nalang ni attorney ay nilapag nalang nya sa isang lamesa doon… that time na  tinignan na ng OTS yun laman…nung nakita na suspected dried leaves of  marijuana yung nasa pack, doon na nagtawag ng PNP at doon na rin kami tinawag (He resisted initially but eventually laid the cigarette pack on a table there… when OTS checked it and found the dried marijuana leaves, that was when they called the PNP and PDEA),” Tubbali said.

Tubbali said the fact that Tabotabo hesitated when asked what was inside the cigarette pack was an indication that he was aware he was bringing marijuana.

“Sa personnel ng OTS, parang hesitant kanina si attorney na i-ano (show) kung ano ang nilalaman ng cigarette na yon. Yung attitude nya lang po na yon, yun yung parang basehan natin na parang meron syang tinatago (For the OTS personnel, the lawyer was hesitate to show what was inside the cigarette pack. That was in indication that he was hiding something).” Tubbali stated.

Tabotabo reportedly told the OTS that the marijuana is evidence in a case that was left in his care and that he forgot to remove it from his pocket.

“Sabi nila na yun daw ay isang ebidensya na nakalimutan nya lang na tanggalin sa bulsa nya (They said it’s evidence that he forgot to remove from his pocket),” Tubbali said.

A lawyer since 1980, Tabotabo is handling mostly labor cases. He is also the lawyer of Amparo and Luis Balili, owners of the controversial Balili property purchased by the Cebu provincial government.

Tabotabo will face the charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

In a statement, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Cebu City Chapter hopes due process will be observed in Tabotabo’s case.

“We are saddened of this current incident that a member of the legal profession was implicated in this case. We just hope that Atty. Caesar Tabotabo will be accorded due process of law and we hope that the full arm of the law will be enforced to get into the bottom of this,” reads the statement from its president, Atty. Regal Oliva. JMO (FREEMAN)

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