MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has dismissed text rumors that he is already dead.
"I am very much alive and strong," PDEA Director General Jose S. Gutierrez Jr. said in a statement.
Gutierrez said the hoax was deliberately done in order to add more fuel to the controversies hounding the agency.
"This is not new to me. I have gone through the edge of death and barely survived. But this time, my supposed 'death' was made with malicious intent to mislead everyone," said Gutierrez, who is a cancer survivor.
He also denied reports that a near shootout happened inside his office involving members of PDEA Special Enforcement Service (SES) and PDEA agents linked to the alleged P8 million extortion case.
Gutierrez said that some underhanded efforts were obviously behind these rumors purportedly as an attempt to launch a smear campaign against him and destroy PDEA as an institution.
A Palace source earlier told ABS-CBN News that President Aquino is now looking for a possible replacement for Gutierrez from a shortlist. This is amidst the controversies hounding Gutierrez and his wife and the extortion issue in PDEA.
The source said Aquino is worried the PDEA might be sidetracked from its mandate by the involvement of some agents in illegal activities.
The source added the President is also taking into consideration Gutierrez’s deteriorating health condition.
Ex-PDEA deputy chief Carlos Gadapan earlier accused Gutierrez of signing off on an P8 million extortion attempt against a Chinese drug suspect. The suspect, Mark Sy Tan, later confirmed the extortion attempt but denied that he paid any money.
A witness interviewed by ABS-CBN, however, confirmed the extortion, saying the money was coursed through her account.
Gadapan also accused Gutierrez of recommending his firing after he revealed Gutierrez’s wife had a gambling problem.