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PDEA nabs DOH doctor, 6 others in drug buy-bust

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday nabbed a medical officer of the Department of Health (DOH) and six others in a buy-bust operation conducted at a Condominium unit in Mandaluyong.

In a report on UNTV News and Rescue’s Ito Ang Balita by JL Asayo, PDEA identified the suspects as licensed physician Dr. Vanjoe de Guzman, Keanu Andrea Flores, Mark Echauz, Gerald Fajardo, Michael Tan and an alias Boy Kulot.

Authorities recovered from the suspects six sachets of suspected shabu with an estimated street value of P340,000 and several bottles containing suspected liquid ecstasy approximately worth P30,000; drug paraphernalia, marked money and a mobile phone.

PDEA agents first arrested De Guzman, Flores and Echauz when they conducted an operation around 12 midnight at the condominium unit turned drug den, allegedly operated by De Guzman.

De Guzman denied the accusation.

“So tingnan niyo, parang kahihiyan sa work ko. I’m from the government, government employee ako tapos [I] will do that, parang… uhm I’m a user, nag-use po ako pero I don’t,” de Guzman said.

DOH said in a statement that De Guzman has been a regular employee since 2015. However, he has not been coming to work since November 2018 despite orders to report to the office.

“Dr. Vanjoe de Guzman is a regular DOH employee from February 2015, however, he has been on AWOL (Absence Without Leave) status since November 26, 2018. Despite written directives to report immediately to the office, Dr. de Guzman has failed to comply. This has prompted for DOH-MMCHD to issue an Order of Separation and commence disciplinary proceedings, in consultation with the Civil Service Commission, for his eventual dismissal from the service,” DOH said.

The other three suspects were nabbed when they showed up at the condo unit during a follow-up operation when PDEA agents contacted them using the seized mobile phone. The three were accused of peddling illegal drugs.

“Oo, inaamin ko gumagamit po ako pero not palagi po (anong trabaho mo?) nagpa-part time po ako [as an] ambassador sa isang club po and then nag-freelance model, talent/extra sa mga tapings,” Flores, a college student, admitted when asked about her involvement in the pot session.

PDEA Agent Winifredo Alagabia Jr. told reporters after the operation what they have recovered from the suspects.

“May nakuha tayong pictures, may mga hubo’t hubad na tao sa cellphone. So, may mga possibility na after using the drugs, nag o-orgy na sila, nag se-sexual orgy na sila. So, maliban sa delikado na ma-overdose, baka delikado din sa spread ng HIV yung ginagawa nila,”

Suspects are detained at PDEA main office for violating the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. – Robie de Guzman

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PDEA arrests 15 drug suspects in separate anti-illegal drug operations

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has arrested 15 drug suspects in anti-illegal drug operations in Makati and Quezon City on Tuesday (July 15).

Authorities conducted the operation in Barangay Olympia in Makati City. They seized around 25 grams of suspected shabu and over 100 grams of marijuana estimated to be worth P185,000.

PDEA Regional Special Enforcement Team served a search warrant against group leaders, Almer de Ocampo alias Inday and Ronald Ariola alias Elbi.

Authorities said they have been monitoring the activities of these suspects including their cohorts. A total of 12 individuals were arrested.

Meanwhile, three others were arrested in the anti-illegal drug operation in Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City.

The suspects were identified as Matthew Oliveros (20 years old), Wennalyn Oca (20), John Sobrepena (22).

Authorities seized around one kilo of marijuana with a street value of P120,000.

The 15 suspects will face charges for violating Republic Act no. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.—AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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Senators divided over PH’s possible withdrawal from UN human rights body

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

UNHRC Hall | Courtesy: United Nations Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s tweet about the Philippines’ possible withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) earned mixed reactions from members of the Senate.

In reaction to the issue, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines may face unfavorable consequences in the future with its withdrawal from different UN bodies.

“It may be a matter of time when we will be left to our own devices. We do not know when, but being a developing country, we may need to knock on the doors of the community of nations sooner or later,” Lacson said in statement on Monday (July 15).

For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan believes there will come a time when the Philippines will have to explain the outcome of the government’s drive against illegal drugs.

“We can run but we can’t hide. Sooner or later we will have to explain if not to the international community at the very least to ourselves and our citizens why tens of thousands have been killed,” Pangilinan said.

“Yet the drug menace has become worse while drug syndicates and customs officials behind the smuggling of tons of shabu through the BoC go unpunished,” he added.

But Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed support to whatever the Foreign Affairs Department proposes best for the country.

“He would be in the best position to assess what is beneficial for our country as far as diplomacy with others is concerned,” Sotto said of Locsin.

Locsin posted the idea on Saturday (July 13) when a netizen inquired about how the Philippine representation in Iceland reacted to the Council’s approval of Iceland’s resolution seeking to probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the Duterte administration’s drug war.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

The resolution garnered 18 affirmative votes, 14 negative and 15 abstentions. – with details from Nel Maribojoc.

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PH mulls severing ties with Iceland, 17 other nations – Malacañang

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is mulling over the possibility of cutting ties with Iceland and 17 other nations that voted in favor of a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct a comprehensive review on the human rights situation in the Philippines amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Monday (July 15).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they will take a serious look into the country’s diplomatic relationship with other nations, adding that Iceland and other nations’ move can be considered as interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

On July 11 (Thursday), 18 of the 47-member of the UNHRC voted to adopt the resolution filed by Iceland, tasking the UN Human Rights Office to prepare a comprehensive report on the Philippines’ human rights situation amid its ongoing anti-drug campaign.

Among the countries that voted in favor of the resolution are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Iceland, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

“’Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay kailangang talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila kung wala silang gagawin kundi siraan tayo ng siraan sa mga kalakaran na di naman batay sa tunay na pangyayari dito sa ating bayan,” Panelo told reporters in a press briefing.

(If a country is making declarations that are affront to our independence or sovereignty, if they continue to do or say negative things that are not based on facts or occurrences in our country, then we need to sever our ties with them.)

However, Panelo said that Duterte will have the final say on the matter, as well as on calls for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the UNHRC.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

“In the ultimate analysis, he is the chief architect of foreign policy. Then, it’s the call of the President,” he said.

The palace official assured that they will also factor in every aspect, including the welfare of Filipinos living and working in the mentioned 18 countries, and circumstances that could lead to the cutting of ties.

The UN resolution asked the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

With the adoption of the Iceland-led resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

Although the Duterte administration does not consider the resolution a legally-binding document, Panelo said the government is willing to respond to the UN council’s formal questions or communication about Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

“They have to believe what this government tells them, because this government does not lie,” Panelo said.

However, he stressed that the government will not oblige if the questions are designed to “embarrass” the Duterte administration. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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