Inquiry on the regularity of drug raid involving Tupas ongoing

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Nov) – An internal investigation has been initiated to look into the regularity of the controversial drug raid during a party conducted at a resort in Pindasan, Mabini, Davao de Oro last November 6 where authorities allegedly set free several partygoers, including Davao City Information Office (CIO) chief and her boyfriend.

PDEA personnel doing inventory of the drugs and other items seized during the 6 November 2021 raid at the beach resort in Pindasan, Mabini, Davao de Oro. Photo from the PDEA-XI Facebook page

Aileen T. Lovitos, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Davao, said during a virtual briefing for members of the AFP-PNP Press Corps Southern Mindanao on Wednesday that former CIO chief Jefry Tupas will be included in the investigation.

She said she hopes the inquiry would shed light on the speculations on what transpired during the operation conducted by joint personnel of PDEA, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Davao, and police in the province.

The PDEA-Davao official has yet to release the members of the team conducting the inquiry and how many of those who took part in the operation would be subject to the inquiry.

Lovitos said the result of the investigation will come out before the end of the year.

She did not mention the officials leading the operation and how many officers took part in it.

The official refused to comment on the report by the Davao City-based Newsline Philippines Tuesday where a group of detained partygoers claimed they saw Tupas and her partner, Jed Wong, during the raid.

They alleged that Tupas and her boyfriend were taken to a different area in the resort, separated from the rest of the partygoers, and were “allowed to escape.”

Another detainee claimed he heard Tupas telling the authorities: “Staff ko ni Inday Sara (I’m a staff of [Mayor] Inday Sara [Duterte]). Unsa ni? Unsa ni? (What’s this? What’s this?).”

Lovitos maintained that no one was set free during the raid.

She pointed out that it was a planned operation, and they already had a subject beforehand. “[It] was a buy-bust operation,” the PDEA official said.

She did not disclose if Tupas was included in the watchlist of PDEA-Davao, saying the list is highly confidential and needs to be validated.

“I was not in the operation and I cannot comment on that because that’s the statement of the other party, and, of course, the case is already with the prosecution office. There’s an investigation already and we’re awaiting resolution from the fiscal and let the law take its course,” Lovitos said.

According to one of the detained partygoers, there were over 50 guests around during the exclusive beach party but only 17 were arrested.

But Lovitos countered by saying that operatives had set their eyes on the targets of the operation.

“As you can see, the operation was conducted on the beach, there were beach-goers, and there was an ongoing party. It speaks for itself – it’s a party, it’s a beach – there were many beach-goers at that time. As I’ve said earlier, we have our targets in the operation,” she stressed.

Lovitos said operatives focused on conducting the operation to “disrupt the peddling of ecstasy in Davao region, particularly Davao de Oro.”

She added that officials from the barangay and Department of Justice were present during the raid as witnesses.

In a statement released Tuesday noon, Mayor Sara Duterte announced she fired Tupas on Sunday when the latter signified her intention to resign.

“The details of the raid are known only to the PDEA officers in Davao de Oro and Ms. Tupas. Last Sunday, Jefry signified his resignation and on the same moment he was informed that he is terminated from work with the City Government of Davao,” the mayor said. It is not clear why the mayor said the details of the raid “are known only to the PDEA officers in Davao de Oro and Ms. Tupas.”

A press release issued by PDEA-Davao last Sunday did not name Tupas as among the drug personalities arrested.

Lovitos, in the Newsline interview, maintained there were only 17 arrested, 14 of whom tested positive for use of illegal drugs – including shabu, marijuana, and Ecstasy – and are now facing complaints for violation of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

A press release from the PDEA on Sunday said authorities arrested 33-year-old Revsan Ethelbert P. Elizalde, single, and a resident of Catalunan Pequeño, Davao City after selling one plastic sachet containing violet capsule believed to be a party drug worth P2,000 and one large vacuum sealed plastic with suspected marijuana worth P6,000 to an agent who acted as a buyer. Elizalde was the subject of the buy-bust operation conducted by the joint personnel of PDEA-Davao, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Davao, and Mabini Municipal Police Station.

Recovered from scene were 26 pieces of heat sealed transparent plastic sachets with marijuana leaves weighing around 200 grams worth P24,000; three pieces transparent plastic sachets containing suspected shabu weighing 10 grams worth P150,000; 722 tablets/capsules of suspected party drugs worth P1,227,400; nine plastic bottles with suspected liquid party drugs worth P15,000; two vials containing suspected liquid party drugs worth P17,000; 77 pieces suspected lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) worth P130,000. Seven bottles of energy drinks were also seized during the operation. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)