>> Sunday, March 29, 2009

Alfred P. Dizon
Unholy alliance of ‘fixcals,’ drug pushers

The “war” against illegal drugs in this Banana Republic is considered an exercise in futility if the government doesn’t have the will to go against “big” and “medium” fishes. These are the people who engage in the illegal business or connive to earn profits worth millions of pesos. These characters are usually composed of the drug lords and people in government usually holding sensitive or high positions.

The small fishes are usually the ones who get jailed if they don’t have the money to bribe their way to freedom. This is the usual sentiment of the man on the street and Drugs Board chief Tito Sotto better come up with more effective means to stop the menace than issuing “praise releases” or this blighted republic will become another Columbia where drug lords reign supreme – they dictate what government officials should or ought not to do
There have been a lot of incidents of lawmen, government officials and those in the judiciary of being in cahoots with illegal drug dealers as reported by media. Make your conclusions on this incident in Dagupan City:

Due to another technicality by Dagupan City Prosecutor Pelagio Palma, a certain Michael Cali Bagul, alleged notorious leader of the Bagul Drug Group was released. According to Ilocos regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency officials, Palma was the same prosecutor who released the drug personality last year.

On Jan. 30, 2008, Region 1 PDEA elements nabbed Bagul and wife Analiza who topped the list of the agency’s wanted persons in the region. The two were arrested in an entrapment operation at their home in the Muslim compound of Bonuan in Dagupan.

PDEA regional director Roberto S. Opena said proper cases were filed against both suspects but these were immediately dismissed as Palma did not believe that a buy-bust operation took place and the technicality on the buy-bust money never being recovered.
Analiza Bagul’s charge of Section 5, (selling) of Article II of RA 9165 was reduced to Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs), a bailable case while her husband was eventually released. Not giving up, PDEA agents continued their intelligence operations against the alleged drug leader and cohorts.

On March 21, Michael Bagul was caught in the act of selling one heat sealed plastic sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in front of his store at Fernandez St., Barangay 2, Dagupan. He was charged with section 5 on the same date but filing was delayed and postponed due to the unavailability of the duty prosecutor until March 23 this month. Palma insisted on the ordinary filing of the case as the 36 hours detention of a suspect lapsed. Michael now roams the streets of Pangasinan again.

“We are not taking this seating down; we are sending a letter to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales informing him on what’s going on around here” was the curt comment of Opena, saying the PDEA would file a motion for reconsideration of the said case.

Opena earlier heard over DZRH telling anchor Joe Taruc in the latest arrest of Bagul, Palma went to a baptism so PDEA agents had to wait for him so the case would be filed. When Palma returned around 2 p.m. to his office, he reportedly dismissed the case ruling that the prescriptive hours in detention of a suspect had lapsed as Bagul had to be released. The PDEA agents could only shake their heads in exasperation reportedly saying had Palma been earlier, the prescriptive period could not have lapsed.
Meanwhile in Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet, Cordillera PDEA press relation officer Emely Fama said authorities arrested a member of a high school drug group after conducting a buy-bust operation last week.
Chief Insp. Edgar Apalla, OIC regional PDEA regional chief identified the suspect as George Perto y Tugade, 18, single, 1st year high school student, native and resident of Lebeng, Badeo, Kibungan, Benguet.
Perto, was arrested while selling marijuana to a PDEA agent on March 22 around 8:30 p.m. during an entrapment operation at Km 6, Bebag, La Trinidad, Benguet. Confiscated from Perto during the buy-bust operation were 12 of marijuana fruiting tops weighing around 20.55 kilos valued at P513,750.

Perto later told cops he entered the illegal drug trade to be able to go to school. He admitted he collected marijuana bricks from other cultivators and sold these to middlemen. A case for illegal drugs is set to be filed before the office of the provincial prosecutor against Perto who was set to be incarcerated at the provincial jail at press time.

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