MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/1 February) – In today’s regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bukidnon, Vice Gov. Jose Maria R. Zubiri Jr. suspended the house rules to enable an official from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the province to render a report on what they have accomplished since last year.
Near the end of the PDEA official’s presentation Zubiri touched on the recent report that some job order employees of the Malaybalay City government were caught on camera sniffing shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).
The vice governor posed a question that has also bugged me since: Did the PDEA not conduct a raid at the same time that the video footage was taken? That would have injected some adrenalin into an otherwise drowsy session where both the presiding officer and resource person sounded patronizing of each other for the most part.
Unfortunately, the PDEA official did not give a direct answer to the question. And, as he was offering an explanation that did not hit the proverbial nail on the head, Zubiri lapsed into a side issue and did not pursue [his] question the answer to which would have either erased doubts in the minds of local residents or reinforced suspicions that something is being deliberately hidden from the public.
Indeed, the local PDEA office has to explain many things about the controversial video footage. The agency did not say how they managed to obtain it. It could not have come from an outsider since it would be easy for the suspected shabu users to spot him or her.
Mayor Ignacio Zubiri himself admitted the suspects were city employees under his office. Presumably, they’re close buddies and as such are unlikely to squeal on each other’s alleged addiction to illegal drugs.
That leaves the PDEA as the only likely source of the video footage. In which case, it can be presumed that it was captured during a raid especially since the PDEA declared they had put the suspects under surveillance for a year, maybe longer. And if it’s a raid, some pieces of evidence were probably seized, if not shabu itself, then maybe, the paraphernalia used by the suspects.
The PDEA agent interviewed by MindaNews reporter Walter Balane earlier said they had enough evidence that the employees were using shabu.
Later however he backtracked and implied that all they had was the video footage which he said is inadmissible as evidence in court.
At the end of PDEA-Bukidnon’s presentation today, Vice Gov. Zubiri declared they have opened a Pandora’s box. Perhaps he was referring to the rosy picture of the anti-drug campaign in the province as reported by the PDEA. But with the questions surrounding the video footage left unanswered I beg to disagree with the vice governor.
Leaving these questions hanging will only worsen the adverse perceptions as circulated in text messages against the city mayor of Malaybalay, who happens to be his nephew. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)