Saturday, September 22, 2012

'Drug gangs out to get my husband'

MANILA, Philippines - Calling herself “collateral damage” in what she said was a “grand plan” by drug syndicates to attack her husband, Estrella Gutierrez came out yesterday to belie allegations hurled against her. Estrella, wife of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Jose Gutierrez Jr., said she plans to file a libel complaint against former PDEA deputy director general for operations Carlos Gadapan over allegations she had incurred debts because of her compulsive gambling. “I categorically deny these baseless allegations,” Estrella said in an interview yesterday. “Hindi ako nagka-casino (I do not go to casinos).” Gadapan said his approaching the PDEA chief about Estrella’s supposed gambling activities was what cost him his job. Gadapan claimed Estrella had been dropping the PDEA chief’s name whenever she supposedly borrowed money from casino financiers. Estrella, who operates an upscale flower shop, said she also has a name to protect. She said groups are targeting her husband because he is “undeniably very effective” at his job as head of the anti-drug agency. “This is a grand plan to discredit the PDEA and my husband,” Estrella said. “I am the collateral damage.” She said she wants Gadapan “to pay and pay dearly for this mess” through the libel case she will file against him. She added that their family had never benefited from the agency’s resources. Extortion Estrella believes Gadapan is reportedly working with people “who wanted to extort money” from her. “This was evident in the extortion letter I received, sent by a person whom I cannot disclose at this moment,” she said. Estrella said one of the documents “brandished” by Gadapan in one of his interviews looked like the extortion letter she received two weeks ago, demanding that she pay debts she had already settled. She refused to name the letter sender, but added that “she will be unmasked.” Estrella said the debts Gadapan claimed she incurred are for her flower shop, and that these had long been paid. The checks shown by Gadapan were issued three years ago, Estrella said, adding that if any of the checks had problems, she would have gone to jail by now. ‘Mistah’ bats for Gadapan Meanwhile, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987 aired his support for Gadapan. “He is a good officer and a man of integrity,” Tarlac provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Alfred Corpuz said of his “mistah.” Gadapan accused Gutierrez of working on his termination after he told him about his wife’s gambling problem. He said it was Gutierrez who signed an endorsement to Malacañang for his relief. Gutierrez said the decision to relieve Gadapan was beyond his power and that it was an order that came from Malacañang. He ordered all PDEA units yesterday to continue their operations against high-value and high-impact targets, saying the agency will not be sidetracked by the controversies. NBI confirms PDEA probe National Bureau of Investigation Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas said yesterday that both Gutierrez and Gadapan are being investigated. “We are looking into allegations of both camps,” he said. Rojas said that aside from probing allegations of Gadapan that Gutierrez is involved in an P8-million extortion incident, they are also looking into Gadapan’s records. He refused to provide details of the investigation, saying he has yet to receive reports from the agents conducting the probe. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Janvic Mateo - By Reinir Padua