PDEA chief orders probe after court rules illegal arrest in Dumaguete drug bust

PDEA chief orders probe after court rules illegal arrest in Dumaguete drug bust

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) “will never condone any illegal acts” of its personnel.

PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva gave that statement on Wednesday in response to a court ruling that some of the agency’s agents illegally arrested last July 28 alleged drug suspects in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

“We will leave it to the court while our personnel will also have their rights to be heard,” Villanueva said. “I immediately ordered for the conduct of investigation on the said incident.”

Judge Amelia Lourdes Mendoza, who presides over Branch 34 of the Dumaguete Regional Trial Court, handed down the 15-page order dated Oct. 9, which granted the motion of the accused to quash the evidence against them.

The court dismissed the case and ordered the Philippine National Police to release the accused.

The court obtained closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showing that the suspects were picked up in different areas, not arrested in a house as stated in an official report — which the judge said indicated that the operation was staged.

According to the court, the officers and personalities involved in the said buy-bust were given 10 days after receipt of the order to explain why they should not be held in indirect contempt for misleading the legal proceedings.

“This Court shall not shirk from this immense responsibility of protecting not only the individual rights of the accused in these cases, but more importantly, in ensuring that individual liberties are never sacrificed on account of expediency and efficacy of the war on drugs,” Mendoza said in her order.

“Mere expediency was never intended as an excuse for constitutional shortcuts, which are abhorrent to the rule of law ideals defining constitutionalism in this country,” she added.

“The Court, in embarking on an extensive discussion of the constitutional order of things in our legal system, did so with the full intention not only to right wrongs in the present, but also to write for the future of law and survival of democracy in this country as well,” she went on.

According to PDEA, the agents involved in the case, if proven guilty of wrongdoing, may not face removal from office and imprisonment.