“He has a lot of explaining to do, not only to his colleagues in the DOJ who do everything to protect and maintain whatever integrity is left to the department, but also and most especially, to a nation whose people Blancaflor pledged to serve faithfully.”
The ongoing war between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has caught the attention of the nation. The war began when PDEA accused members of the DOJ of accepting multi-million peso bribe for the resolution ordering the release of Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson (The Alabang Boys) who were arrested on September 20 last year for possession of marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy.
“PDEA should name names!” said Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales. And so on Sunday, January 3, the head of the PDEA Special Enforcement Service Major Ferdinand Marcelino named Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor.
According to Major Marcelino, Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor called Marcelino, during the PDEA’s Christmas party on December 19, asking “Pasko na, bakit hindi pa ninyo ni-re-release?” referring to Brodett, Joseph, and Tecson, who were arrested by the PDEA team headed by Major Marcelino, in relation to the resolution signed by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno releasing the suspects.
The resolution dated December 2 ordered the release of Brodett, Joseph, and Tecson on the grounds of illegal arrest and search, and PDEA’s use of excessive force, among others.
According to the PDEA, it received information that the family of the suspects paid 50 million pesos to the prosecutors that resulted to the recommendation for the release of Brodett, Joseph, and Tecson. Marcelino himself was offered a bribe ranging from 3 to 20 million pesos for their release.
On January 4, Justice Undersecretary Blancaflor confirmed he made the call but insisted that he has done nothing illegal. He also expressed his readiness to resign from his post once there is proof that he used his influence to release the suspects.
At the onset, it is difficult to pinpoint between PDEA and the DOJ who among the two is telling the truth. Both are resulting to generalities in their statements. No one talks about the specifics of the facts and circumstances surrounding and leading to the arrest of the Alabang Boys. The DOJ alleges illegal search and arrest implying that until now PDEA does not know how to do its job consisting mostly of conducting search and arrest . In return, PDEA, perhaps insulted by the implication of the DOJ’s allegation, contends that it is corruption, not PDEA’s ignorance of the constitutional rights of the citizens, that resulted to the resolution releasing the suspects. The situation is further complicated by the statement of Justice Gonzales denying receipt of the copy of the December 2 resolution. On Sunday, January 3, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales denied receiving or signing any resolution for the release of the three suspects. “That’s the reason why I am saying there was a leak in the DOJ and that someone from my office tried to pull a fast one on me, thinking I am not reading everything that is placed on my desk. The truth is, I have yet to see a copy of that resolution,” says Justice Secretary Gonzales. Is he saying that the Chief State Prosecutor cannot issue a valid resolution without his signature or approval?
Amidst all the mess, one thing is sure. One thing that stands out and shocks the nation: Undersecretary of the Department of Justice called a law enforcement agency official implying that the latter release the suspects. What it is to Blancaflor if the suspects remain in custody with the PDEA? Surely, the illegal detention, should there be any, resulting from the detention of the suspects will not lock Justice Undersecretary Blancaflor in jail.
It may be that by calling Major Marcelino implying that Marcelino release the suspects, Justice Undersecretary Blancaflor has not done an illegal act. But, to paraphrase a Supreme Court’s decision, people in public service should not only avoid doing evil but also the appearance of evil. Undersecretary Blancaflor’s conduct smeared the image of the DOJ. He has a lot of explaining to do, not only to his coleagues in the DOJ who do everything to protect and maintain whatever integrity is left to the department, but also and most especially, to a nation whose people Blancaflor pledged to serve faithfully.