PDEA legal chief reveals phone conversation with DOJ prosecutor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2009 11:37 PM | Updated as of Jan 07 2009 07:41 AM


PDEA legal chief Alvaro Lazaro (right) with Marines Major Ferdinand Marcelino at House hearing, January 6, 2009

The Director for Legal and Prosecution Services of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) disclosed Tuesday that a phone conversation took place between him and State Prosecutor John Resado, dragging the name of Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño into the dismissal of the so-called "Alabang Boys" illegal drugs case.

PDEA legal chief Alvaro Lazaro said that he called Resado last December 19, 2008 upon receiving information that the illegal drugs case filed against Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson was suddenly dismissed.

"Kaya nung tinawagan ko siya [Resado], sabi ko 'pare, bakit nagkabaliktaran? Sabi mo ifi-file, nire-review lang eh.' Ang sagot niya: 'Pare, delikado, ‘wag tayo sa telepono mag-usap.' Sabi ko bakit? Sabi niya 'kasi si chief Zuño pumirma eh.' Iyon ang sabi niya," Lazaro said.

Lazaro said that Resado was quite hesitant to explain to him as to why the case was dismissed, saying that he never called him up since.

"I want this to be on record, kahit makulong ako papayag ako kahit sa Muntinlupa. Walang problema sa akin iyon. I'm on oath, I have nothing to lose," he said.

Resado however denied Lazaro's allegation, saying that it is very unusual and biased for prosecutors to make a promise to one party, whether it is for the dismissal or for the filing of a certain case.

"Hindi pwedeng mangako sa kabilang party na siguradong filed o dismissed iyan. Ang parati nating sinasagot we will evaluate the records, aaralin nating mabuti. So nakakalungkot pong marinig ang ganyan," Resado said.

Upon hearing Resado's remark, Lazaro said: "Mas nakakalungkot na sabihin sa akin na sinasadya naming baguhin ang kuwento. Ano kami loko-loko? Hindi kami stupido sa PDEA, sir. Pasensya na kayo."

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro "Teddy" Casino said that Resado's mention of Zuño in the phone conversation is not entirely dubious.

"In fairness to Chief Prosecutor Zuno, siya naman talaga ang nakapirma diyan. He was the one who approved it," Casino said.

Lazaro responded to Casino's remark by saying: "Wala akong dahilan para mag-imbento ng kung ano. Sinasabi ko lang ang facts as I received it. Statements as I heard it. Now it's up to the panel to interpret what it means."

Zuño interrogates Marcelino

Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño

Instead of responding to Lazaro's phone call revelation, Zuño opted to probe PDEA Service Head Marines Major Ferdinand Marcelino regarding reports of an alleged bribe offered to officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

"I would first like to ask Major Marcelino. During the time when the case was pending in my office, did you have information that a follow-up was made in my office?" Zuñosaid.

Marcelino said that he was uncertain as to who received the bribe, saying that all he knew was that arrangements were made in the DOJ to secure the release of the "Alabang Boys" before Christmas.

"Ang totoo hindi ko alam kung sino ang tumanggap kung ikaw ba iyon o kung sino pa man sa inyo. Ang sabi lang nila sa akin sa DOJ, inaayos na nila sa DOJ at binigyan ako ng assurance na lalabas ang mga ito before Christmas. Hindi po ako naniwala noon sir dahil sabi nga sa akin ni Atty. Lazaro for filing na ang kaso sa korte. So nung tinawagan niya [Lazaro] ako ng 19 ng mga bandang 5:30 ng hapon, shocked talaga ako, masama talaga ang loob ko, sabi niya kasi for filing na iyan," Marcelino said.

Marcelino then said that he was called up by Lazaro and informed him that the case has been dismissed. He also said that Lazaro quoted Resado as saying that he cannot handle Zuno.

"Kinikilabutan ako dahil ganito pala siguro sa drugs, hindi mo na alam kung sino ang paniniwalaan mo. Nakakatakot na nakakalungkot din," he said.

Zuño refused to comment regarding his alleged involvement, saying that he would reserve his questions in an executive session.