DOJ sues PDEA agents in 'big fish' case
MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has turned the tables on agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who arrested alleged big-time drug dealer Mark Sy Tan in July last year.
After dismissing the drug charges against Tan, the DOJ has approved the indictment of the PDEA operatives for allegedly extorting money from Tan, identified as a “big fish” by the PDEA.
In a 23-page resolution released yesterday, the DOJ found probable cause in the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in November last year against PDEA intelligence and investigation service (IIS) chief Zoilo Lachica Jr., 12 agents and three civilians.
“Essentially, they were part of a grand coverup to hide the crime, in the same manner that respondent Lachica Jr. should likewise be held criminally liable not just for being the director of the IIS responsible for the overt actions of his subordinates,” read the resolution approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.
“The crime of robbery has been proved to have been committed and it could not have been committed without the existence of conspiracy among all respondents,” it added.
After a preliminary investigation conducted by Assistant State Prosecutor Stewart Allan Mariano, PDEA intelligence officers Marvin Mendoza, Jonathan Morales, Gregorio Camua, Virgilio Castillo II, Mark Anthony Omones, Laila Abad, Martin Francia, Alvin Morales, Dave James Curioso, Rodolfo Caisip Jr., Antonio Romero Jr. and Norman de la Cruz Daez were found to be part of a “conspiracy” to extort money from Tan.
Civilians Reynete de Isidro, Ernesto Garcia Jr. and Jonathan Gancuangco would also be indicted by the DOJ.
Records showed that Tan was arrested by IIS operatives upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on July 18, 2012 by virtue of a warrant issued by a local court.
The drug suspect claimed the PDEA agents allegedly demanded P50 million for his release but the amount was reduced to P8 million.
Apart from the 16 respondents, the NBI also charged former PDEA director general Jose Gutierrez for obstruction of justice and negligence after it was learned that the pre-operation report he approved was for mere casing and surveillance only and did not include Tan’s arrest.
Gutierrez was cleared by the DOJ for lack of evidence he was involved in the conspiracy.
It was former PDEA deputy director general Carlos Gadapan who had bared the alleged extortion incident.