Even Congressmen are shocked by the DoJ stink
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-01-08

Considering what our Congressmen are capable of messing up on their own, you can just imagine how stinky this alleged Department of Justice (DoJ) bribery scandal had to be in order to shock our Congressmen.

Rep. Tony Cuenco could not believe the bad grammar of Prosecutor John Resado when Resado penned the release resolution in the “Alabang Boys” (namely Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson) drug case. Rep. Roy Golez could not believe how Prosecutor Resado practically bought hook, line and sinker the defense assertions in the case and even placed the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) agents on the firing line, vulnerable to counter charges.

During the Tuesday House Hearing, not a single Congressman appeared to believe the explanations of the DoJ representatives, especially Prosecutor John Resado. Some Congressmen have openly expressed their support for PDEA case officer Major Ferdinand Marcelino.

You can feel the shock waves when it was revealed that the defense counsel, Atty. Felisberto Verano, wrote the release resolution that was forwarded to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. Rep. Golez called it highly irregular, if not unethical. Then it was disclosed that another player in the DoJ drama, Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor (through whom the release resolution was coursed), was a fraternity brother of Atty. Verano. To top it all, Prosecutor John Resado admitted that Atty. Verano was one of his law professors.

Sure, none of these associations are incriminating per se. But who can deny that in the Court of Public Opinion, these are more than enough reasons for our people to further lose faith in the justice system. With a cynical society like the one we have, who can deny that these associations fuel the belief of many that big money changed hands in the DoJ?

Tagged by Maj. Marcelino for having personally called to follow up the release of the “Alabang Boys” — Blancaflor was earlier accused of having exerted undue pressure on Maj. Marcelino. By inference, Blancaflor becomes a suspect in the alleged bribery in the DoJ for the release of Brodett, Joseph and Tecson. Under our semi-feudal cultural realities, the call from a DoJ Undersecretary to a case officer can be considered as undue pressure being exerted.

Blancaflor’s attempt to parry the suspicion was demolished when his boss, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, spoke out on the issue last Monday. Sec. Gonzalez said that the call to Maj. Marcelino was an expression of “unusual” interest in the case on the part of Blancaflor. Gonzalez said that drug cases were not in the sphere of Blancaflor’s responsibilities in the DoJ.

Gonzalez even disclosed to media that it was Blancaflor who sent him the draft order for the release of the Brodett, Joseph and Tecson — something Blancaflor admitted doing and Atty. Verano admitted writing.

Regarding the draft order, Gonzalez said: “It is not illegal per se when you speak of illegality but it is irregular. In other words, you prepared a resolution for me to sign and I have not ordered you to prepare it. Maybe if I ordered that such an order be prepared, I could not complain.”

Gonzalez added: “This was beyond the ambit of his (Blancaflor) work. It’s not his job to make the order and have it signed by me.”

More revealing on the role that Blancaflor may be playing in this alleged bribery scandal is his earlier claim that the prosecutor’s recommendation to dismiss the drug case and release the three suspects is final and legally binding. However, Blancaflor’s claim was refuted by Sec. Gonzalez who said that there is no resolution yet to dismiss the case against the so-called “Alabang Boys.”

Gonzalez was quoted: “I have a standing memorandum circular enjoining prosecutors from releasing resolution for dismissal of cases involving drugs and smuggling. They should get my imprimatur first before releasing it.” Gonzalez emphasized that the leaked resolution to release the three suspects is not valid because he never signed it.

This bribery scandal must not be taken by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime as a simple case of inter-agency intramurals or as another simple bribery case. It is definitely more complex than that. It is potentially very explosive, politically speaking.

The PDEA Chief, Gen. Dionisio Santiago, and Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, are both seen by media and the general public as public servants who are earnestly trying to do their jobs of eradicating the drug menace. Not only that — the men in uniform recognize Gen. Santiago and Maj. Marcelino as genuine crusaders fighting for the public good.

Already, reactions coming from the Marines have been felt. Maj. Marcelino comes from the Marines, seconded to PDEA. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino had to caution the Marines to remain focused on their main mission.

The conflict in Mindanao is overextending the capabilities of the AFP and the PNP — causing a tremendous stress. CPP-NPA activities have escalated simultaneously with the Mindanao conflict that’s associated with the failed MoA-BJE agreement. Let’s not forget that the Oakwood Incident of 2003 happened as an offshoot of the Mindanao War.

Today, the GMA regime is facing worse challenges than the socio-economic ferment of 2003. The economy is going to encounter the full brunt of the Global Financial Meltdown while GMA is suffering from her worst net satisfaction ratings.

The GMA regime should avoid any unnecessary potential flashpoints that could trigger a political upheaval.

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