PDEA hit for abusing ‘search warrant’ in case vs state college president in NorthCot

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 2 Feb) – The lawyer of an embattled president of a state-run college in Arakan, North Cotabato, from whose residence inside campus authorities claimed finding P500,000 worth of shabu and various high-powered firearms, has lambasted the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for ordering a manhunt against his client even though there was no arrest warrant issued by the courts.

Lawyer Israelito Torreon noted that only a search warrant was issued for authorities to check the President’s Yard – a compound inside campus where the administraiton building and the residence of Dr. Samson Molao, president of the Cotabato Foundation College for Science and Technology (CFCST), are situated ­– and yet the raiding party arrested the school’s guards.

Last January 29, PDEA operatives from the national headquarters led by Levi Ortiz, director for Special Enforcement Services, and elements of the police’s Special Action Force, conducted the raid before dawn inside campus located at Barangay Doruluman in Arakan, North Cotabato reportedly because of the existence of a shabu laboratory and the proliferation of high-powered firearms.

Molao was reportedly not in the campus during the raid starting around 3 a.m. and still at large as of press time.

Operatives arrested five CFCST guards that they saw were holding firearms during the raid.

Ortiz said they seized 13 firearms, all lacking pertinent legal papers, from Molao’s residence. Reports said the firearms include AK-47, M-14 and M-16 Armalite rifles.

Records show that the PDEA filed last Monday a complaint before the Provincial Prosecutor of Kidapawan City against Molao for operating a drug den inside school and for illegal possession of firearms.

Torreon said his client does not intend to hide from authorities but was shocked to learn that the PDEA has issued a manhunt to arrest him.

“How can the PDEA issue a manhunt order? There is yet no warrant to arrest my client, Dr. Molao. He was really surprised to know that the charges had included his alleged operation of a drug den inside the school. Is that possible? That his school has a drug den?” Torreon said in a radio interview over Catholic-run DXND.

Torreon questioned the manner of the implementation of the search warrant.

“The PDEA operatives arrested persons who were not included in the search warrant. These people were security guards of the school. They were just hired to secure the school from groups that are out to overtake or occupy it,” the lawyer said.

He explained that at this time his client could not be arrested by anybody as there is yet no warrant issued for his apprehension.

“Take note: there was only a search warrant, not a warrant of arrest. A search warrant gives authority to search a particular place. It is not even an authority to search another place that was not mentioned in the document,” stressed Torreon.

He said he felt obliged to talk to media to clarify matters as regards his client’s case.

“I have to inform the PNP, the PDEA, and the military that they should not arrest Dr. Molao on site. Whoever arrests him, we are also forced to file charges against them,” he warned. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)