PDEA probes ‘fake’ buy-bust in Dumaguete, ‘recalls’ agents involved

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2020 09:26 PM

MANILA — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has ordered a probe on the “fake” buy-bust operation in Dumaguete City which involved its agents, saying the agency has already “recalled” them.

This, after a Dumaguete court junked the drugs cases against five accused and required the five PDEA agents involved to explain why they should not be held in indirect contempt of court for lying about the true nature of the operation. 

“[N]ag-utos na po si Director General Wilkins Villanueva for the PDEA Intelligence and Investigation Service and the Internal Affairs Service to conduct parallel investigations to determine the liability of the agents involved in this case,” PDEA's spokesperson Derrick Carreon told ABS-CBN News on Wednesday. 

The PDEA agents claimed the five suspects were arrested in one of the suspects' house in Dumaguete City on June 28 this year, and caught them in the act of selling a small sachet of shabu and of holding a drug session.

But CCTV footage presented by the accused to the court showed they were in fact picked up in two different places and were forced to board a blue vehicle traced to the PDEA.

They were later brought to the house of one of the suspects, where they were supposedly arrested.

Negros Oriental Regional Trial Court Branch 34 has initiated contempt proceedings against agents Nelson Muchuelas, May Ann Carmelo, Jose Anthony Juanites, Cheryl Mae Villaver and Realyn Pinpin, requiring them to explain and appear at a November 13 hearing with a barangay official and a media representative that would act as witnesses.

“PDEA will never condone any illegal acts of our personnel. We will leave it to the court while our personnel will also have their own rights to be heard,” Villanueva told ABS-CBN News. 

Villanueva said he has “recalled” the 5 agents, which means they will be placed at the regional administrative holding area while being investigated. 

While the agents were not suspended, the PDEA chief explained that they will not be allowed to take part in any operations.

'EXCEPTIONAL CASES'

Carreon said that what happened in Dumaguete is not the norm.

“These are exceptional cases. These are not the usual happenings on the ground. We can assure you that all PDEA operations are closely monitored and undergo the stringent requirements prior to every operation, particularly the case buildup and in the case of the buy-bust operation,” he said.

Conducting test-buys, casing, and surveillance operations were just among the measures he said they took to ensure that they would arrest the correct suspects.

He added that all drug operations were planned and supported by proper documentation.

“Safeguards are in place. In regard to any planned anti-drug operation. It can be documented and traced properly through the documents issued or executed prior to the conduct of any operation,” he said. 

“I guess it’s a matter of supervising any operation by the concerned officers on the ground, whether they be the provincial officers or the regional directors as the case they be,” he added.

ABS-CBN News reached out to the lawyers of the 5 acquitted drug suspects to find out if they intend to pursue charges against the police officers but they refused to comment on the issue.

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