MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 January) – Six video footages in the hands of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency show employees of Malaybalay City Hall using shabu during office hours, a PDEA official
in Bukidnon told MindaNews.
The PDEA official who asked not to be named for security reasons said they presented the evidence to City Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri on January 16.
The PDEA official alleged there is increasing use of illegal drugs among public officials and employees in Bukidnon, most of them from prominent families. He said they, too, have been placed under surveillance.
The videos showed eight persons in pot session, some of them in city government office uniform, he added.
But while the videos were taken during office hours, he said, the footages showed the pot session took place in an area outside the city hall compound.
PDEA Bukidnon refused to reveal the names of the suspects, and referred instead the reporters to city officials.
“The mayor vowed to file administrative charges against the employees,” the PDEA official said, adding Zubiri told him the employees will be permanently barred from public office based on civil service rules.
Zubiri, who was reported to be on leave, refused to take MindaNews’ calls since last week.
City Councilor Roland Deticio said six employees of the city government resigned even before administrative charges could be filed against them last week.
Deticio, a lawyer, said the employees named by PDEA held job order positions and therefore not subject to administrative charges unlike regular and casual employees.
MindaNews sources said the employees were members of the staff of Zubiri, one of them a relative of a high-ranking city official.
The official did not take calls from this reporter on the issue.
PDEA-Bukidnon meanwhile said they won’t press criminal charges against the employees, saying their fate was up to the city government.
The PDEA official earlier said they have enough evidence that would prove the employees used shabu.
But he backtracked today and said they were unable to obtain enough evidence.
“The video footages are inadmissible as evidence in court,” he said in a telephone interview.
He denied they were compromised because the subjects of their investigation were “big fish.”
The PDEA official also denied reports the surveillance operations were covered by “Bitag” (Trap), a program aired on ABC 5 that tackles police entrapment operations.
But he admitted it was part of the original plan to have it covered by television.
“It became difficult to gather them together to be captured on camera,” he added.
PDEA Bukidnon has put the employees under surveillance for almost a year, the official added.
Another agent earlier told this reporter the surveillance lasted for almost two years.
MindaNews tried to contact the Bitag anchors through the hotline numbers posted on their website since last week. But nobody took the calls.
Malaybalay residents, taking their cue from forwarded text messages, watched Bitag for the showing of the footages of the alleged pot session. But no episode on the issue was aired. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)