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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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DOJ defers investigation on narco-prosecutors

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines –  The Department of Justice (DOJ) has deferred its investigation into the 10 public prosecutors who were included in the so-called narco-list of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that while the department is bent on conducting a probe on these alleged narco fiscals, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had been reluctant in revealing the names of the prosecutors and in sharing information with the DOJ.

“It is regretful that PDEA announced it before validation because everyone in the prosecution service as well as judges in the judiciary became a suspect at this point when the names are being withheld,” Guevarra added.

Guevarra said PDEA’s decision to withhold the names of the prosecutors could place the whole National Prosecution Service (NPS) in bad light.

The DOJ chief said that he has already prepared a letter requesting the names of the 10 prosecutors.

He added, however, that PDEA DG Aaron Aquino has said that they cannot share the information yet pending the drug agency’s validation of their report.

This prompted Guevarra to hold the transmittal of the letter and to just await the results of their validation.  – Maris Federez

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CHR reminds PDEA to observe due process in drug testing of PUV drivers

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has reminded the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and public transport companies to conduct mandatory drug testing within the bounds of the law.

The CHR issued the statement in response to PDEA’s move to implement mandatory drug testing among public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers across the country.

“As employers, companies have every right to want to ensure a safe and effective workplace. However, should they push forward with mandatory drug testing, it should be mindful of the proper standards of confidentiality and be done within the bounds of the law,” CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline De Guia said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dubbed as “Oplan Harabas,” PDEA’s simultaneous surprise mandatory drug testing of all PUV drivers nationwide is aimed at ensuring the safety of passengers from substance-using drivers.

Last Sunday (March 31), 55 PUV drivers tested positive for illegal drug use out of 4,470 drivers who underwent a drug test held by PDEA at 54 public transportation terminals nationwide.

PDEA said the results are now undergoing confirmatory tests.

Under the Republic Act 10586 or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013, drivers who were found to have been driving under the influence of dangerous drugs, alcohol and other similar substances will face license confiscation. They will also be banned from driving as they undergo drug rehabilitation.

Baliwag Transit has been subjecting its drivers and conductors to random drug testing three times a year. This is to ensure their passengers’ safety and that their drivers are drug-free.

If found positive for illegal drug use, drivers and conductors employed by the Baliwag Transit may face termination.

“Tinatanggal na po ng company ‘yung empleyado. Ganun po kahigpit ‘yung empleyado sa mga driver na involved sa drugs. Buhay po ng tao ang hawak po nila, buhay ng pasahero ang dala-dala nila. Kinakailangan na negative sila sa drug test,” Baliwag Transit Liason Officer Johnny Manfoste told UNTV News and Rescue.

(The company dismisses employees who test positive for drug use. The company is very strict when it comes to drivers involved in drugs. They are responsible for the life of the passengers they are ferrying so they have to test negative when undergoing a drug test)

While CHR respects the right of transport companies to ensure a safe and effective workplace, the agency reminded them to observe confidentiality and due process in conducting the mandatory drug testing.

“They must also ensure that any findings are punished commensurate to the offense, and that it observes due process of the law,” CHR added.

The agency also cited the case of Dela Cruz vs People of the Philippines in 2014 in which Supreme Court ruled that “mandatory drug testing is a violation of the right to privacy and the right against self-incrimination or testifying against oneself.” – Robie de Guzman (with details from Joan Nano)

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PUV drivers undergo surprise drug testing under PDEA’s Oplan Harabas

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Saturday, March 30th, 2019

PUV drivers lining up for PDEA’s surprise drug test on March 29, 2019 | Courtesy PDEA Region VII

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency conducted a surprise drug test on PUV drivers all across the country on Friday.

This is part of their natiomwide anti-illegal drug campaign, Oplan Harabas, Drug Test Muna Bago Pasada.”

Oplan Harabas, according to PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino, was launched for the safety of passengers against drivers involved in illegal drugs.

Aquino said during an interview with reporters, that drivers who tested positive of illegal drugs will be stripped of their license. They will also undergo rehabilitation.

“The important thing there is how he will obtain again his license after getting a certificate after graduating from the rehabilitation center. We are implementing this because we want to help the drivers and it is important also to have interventions with the conductors and drivers,” Aquino said.

— Aileem Cerrudo

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