By JAY RUIZ
After three months of intensive training 17 former members of the Magdalo group were each given a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agent (PDEA) badge and were sworn in as PDEA agents.
The 17 new agents of PDEA were part of the 53 discharged junior officers who were detained for more than four years. They were honorably discharged after a plea bargain agreement for their involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago, a former Armed Forces’ chief of staff, said that he decided to give the former Magdalo members a second chance for them to redeem themselves and contribute something positive for the country. Many of the former Magdalo members belonged to special elite units of the AFP before the 2003 Oakwood incident.
The oath-taking was held at PDEA headquarters in Quezon City.
Santiago added that the idealism and core competencies of the former Magdalo officers will prove useful in the campaign against illegal drugs.
Santiago hopes that these Magdalo officers who continue to advocate an anti-corruption drive will help him fight corruption in the battle against illegal drugs, which he said has been infiltrated by corruption
One of the new recruits, Intelligence officer Julius Navales, was a former first lieutenant in the Philippine Army.
Navales said that he is thankful that the PDEA trusted him to become an intelligent agent. For that he said that he will work doubly hard to fight drug dealers whom he said are destroying the lives of many young men and women.
Another recruit, Intelligence officer Jigger Montallana, a former second lieutenant of the Philippine Air Force and a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 2002 said that he turned down an offer to work in the corporate world to serve the country in a different capacity.
Montallana said he believes that the fight against the illegal drug problem in the country is equally important as the fight against the New People’s Army and other rebel groups.
Santiago revealed that he is still continuing to recruit other former Magdalo officers who want to join the agency. He said that he needs more than four hundred other PDEA agents to help fight the illegal drug problem in the country.
The Magdalo group of more than 300 junior officers and soldiers occupied the posh Oakwood Apartments in July 2003 allegedly to protest corruption in the government and the military. After peaceful negotiations they surrendered to authorities and were charged with coup d'etat in a civilian court as well as violations of the Articles of War in a military court.
After plea bargains, many of the junior officers were discharged from military service while soldiers who participated were demoted but were returned to active service. Some of the junior officers including Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, then a Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade and one of the core leaders of the Magdalo group, are still detained while their trial is ongoing. With abs-cbnNEWS.com