PDEA nabs DOH doctor, 6 others in drug buy-bust

Robie de Guzman   •   February 28, 2019   •   9458

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday nabbed a medical officer of the Department of Health (DOH) and six others in a buy-bust operation conducted at a Condominium unit in Mandaluyong.

In a report on UNTV News and Rescue’s Ito Ang Balita by JL Asayo, PDEA identified the suspects as licensed physician Dr. Vanjoe de Guzman, Keanu Andrea Flores, Mark Echauz, Gerald Fajardo, Michael Tan and an alias Boy Kulot.

Authorities recovered from the suspects six sachets of suspected shabu with an estimated street value of P340,000 and several bottles containing suspected liquid ecstasy approximately worth P30,000; drug paraphernalia, marked money and a mobile phone.

PDEA agents first arrested De Guzman, Flores and Echauz when they conducted an operation around 12 midnight at the condominium unit turned drug den, allegedly operated by De Guzman.

De Guzman denied the accusation.

“So tingnan niyo, parang kahihiyan sa work ko. I’m from the government, government employee ako tapos [I] will do that, parang… uhm I’m a user, nag-use po ako pero I don’t,” de Guzman said.

DOH said in a statement that De Guzman has been a regular employee since 2015. However, he has not been coming to work since November 2018 despite orders to report to the office.

“Dr. Vanjoe de Guzman is a regular DOH employee from February 2015, however, he has been on AWOL (Absence Without Leave) status since November 26, 2018. Despite written directives to report immediately to the office, Dr. de Guzman has failed to comply. This has prompted for DOH-MMCHD to issue an Order of Separation and commence disciplinary proceedings, in consultation with the Civil Service Commission, for his eventual dismissal from the service,” DOH said.

The other three suspects were nabbed when they showed up at the condo unit during a follow-up operation when PDEA agents contacted them using the seized mobile phone. The three were accused of peddling illegal drugs.

“Oo, inaamin ko gumagamit po ako pero not palagi po (anong trabaho mo?) nagpa-part time po ako [as an] ambassador sa isang club po and then nag-freelance model, talent/extra sa mga tapings,” Flores, a college student, admitted when asked about her involvement in the pot session.

PDEA Agent Winifredo Alagabia Jr. told reporters after the operation what they have recovered from the suspects.

“May nakuha tayong pictures, may mga hubo’t hubad na tao sa cellphone. So, may mga possibility na after using the drugs, nag o-orgy na sila, nag se-sexual orgy na sila. So, maliban sa delikado na ma-overdose, baka delikado din sa spread ng HIV yung ginagawa nila,”

Suspects are detained at PDEA main office for violating the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. – Robie de Guzman

PNP agrees with PDEA not to give Robredo list of high-value drug targets

Maris Federez   •   November 18, 2019

PNP Officer-in-Charge PLtGen. Archie Gamboa

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will conform with whatever decision the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will come up with on furnishing Vice President Leni Robredo a copy of their list of high-value targets, in her capacity as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

This after PDEA Director-General Aaron Aquino said that he is ready to present the said list to Robredo but only on closed-door meeting in the presence of personnel with security clearance.

Aquino has earlier refused to have the vice president furnished with the copy as it may compromise their operation, saying “the list is considered classified information that is why not everybody must have a copy of it.”
 
He added that if the list is given to the vice president, they will not have a way of knowing who else might see and learn of its content.

“Sa pinaka simpleng explanation — kapag binigay namin ang listahan kay VP Robredo hindi na namin alam kung sino sino ang magkakaroon ng access sa listahan. That will compromise our negation operations,” Aquino said.

Aquino also cited the “need to know rule” in law enforcement where not everybody is given access to sensitive and classified information.

Meanwhile, PNP Officer-in-Charge PLtGen. Archie Gamboa said Robredo’s request may already be immaterial as the ICAD decides as a collegial body.

“Fine, if you want to review the law enforcement campaign. But would it really matter if you know who are on the list? So yes, I adhere to what PDEA Director General says,” Gamboa said.

The PNP chief once again advised VP Robredo to focus on the advocacy and the rehabilitation aspect of the campaign against illegal drugs.

Gamboa said the vice president must entrust the aspect of law enforcement to the agencies that have full know-how on the matter.

“Why would the VP not take the advocacy and the rehabilitation? Law enforcement and prosecution or on the justice could be best left to those who know it.” (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

Robredo meets with UN officials to push for health-based anti-drug campaign

Marje Pelayo   •   November 12, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing for a stronger, community-based drug rehabilitation program as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD).

Robredo believes that the community has an important role to play in solving the illegal drug menace in the country.

The meeting identified all existing and effective anti-drug programs that other countries have been implementing which can be applied also in the Philippines.

“One of the key learnings of the experiences of other countries is the emphasis on the public health approach and how that can be given equal importance together with the law enforcement approach,” explained USec. Philip Dy of the Office of the Vice President.

Prior to this, Robredo convened the core members of the Community Based Drug Rehab Alliance (COBRA) in an initial attempt to involve the private sector in the government’s war against illegal drugs.

Based on data, 90 percent of drug dependents across the country can be considered ‘occasional users’ who need help from the community.

Robredo is expected to meet again with member agencies of ICAD for follow-ups in the coming days. – MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

Lacson advises Robredo not to join anti-drug ops; focus on cutting drug supply

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has advised Vice President Leni Robredo to focus more on reducing the supply of illegal drugs in the country instead of joining an anti-drug operation.

Lacson gave the advice after he met with Robredo on Friday to discuss what she could do in her new role as the co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD), which President Rodrigo Duterte handed to her last week.

The senator said Robredo’s presence in drug stings might compromise the operation due to security protocols as the country’s second-highest official.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director-general Aaron Aquino earlier challenged Robredo to join one of the anti-drug operations, to which she accepted.

READ: NCRPO chief prepared to let VP Leni join drug busts

“Sa security pa lang, nakakalat na security niya, mate-telegraph ang operation. But they could make some arrangements paano isasagawa yan,” he told UNTV News in a phone interview.

“Pero from briefing sa jumpoff tapos sa mismong operation, di pwedeng pabayaan mo Bise Presidente ng bansa. Pangalawang pinakamataas na opisyal ng bansa natin, ilalagay mo ang buhay sa alanganin dahil susugod siya roon,” he added.

Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said the focus of the drug war has been on the demand side which mostly targets drug users and peddlers on the street.

He pointed out that cutting the supply would make the street value of drugs prohibitive and take down big-time dealers.

“Kapag supply yung focus mo, concentrate mo, unang una magiging prohibitive ang presyo, Pangalawa, siyempre mga big-time drug dealers ang mga mahi-hit mo,” he said.

Lacson also said that further strengthening the process of intelligence gathering against those involved in the narcotics trade would also help in the anti-drug campaign.

He added that during his stint as PNP chief, he maintained close coordination with his foreign counterparts and drug enforcement units in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Lacson also said that he gave names of some people who could help Robredo with the law enforcement part of the job but did not elaborate on who these are. – RRD (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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