Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sacked PDEA official under probe for graft

MANILA, Philippines - Dismissed deputy director general Carlos Gadapan of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on allegations of corruption, his former boss revealed yesterday. PDEA director general Jose Gutierrez Jr. told The STAR this was among the issues being looked into by the NBI. “They (NBI) were sent here to look into these issues,” Gutierrez said. Gadapan was relieved from his post on orders of President Aquino. Gutierrez, however, refused to go into the details of the investigation against Gadapan, saying “these are highly confidential.” For his part, Gadapan denied the allegations hurled against him. “I vehemently deny the allegation that I am corrupt. Eh bakit hindi tayo mag-lifestyle check. (Why don’t we undergo a lifestyle check)?” he told The STAR. “Ako’y hindi corrupt. Wala akong access sa finance. Wala akong pondong milyones. Sino ba’ng may access finance? Eh di yung DG (I am not corrupt. I don’t have access to the finances (of the PDEA). I don’t have millions. The DG has access to the finances),” Gadapan added. He had earlier accused Gutierrez of “clipping” his powers as deputy director general for operations of the agency. Palace dares Gadapan Meanwhile, Malacañang yesterday challenged Gadapan to go ahead with his exposes, saying it has the goods against him, the reason why the President fired him. “Kung gustong magsalita ni Ginoong (Carlos) Gadapan ay bahala siya (If Mr. Gadapan wants to speak, let him do so,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. Lacierda said they are just holding off comments while an investigation is ongoing. The Palace official defended the Sept. 6 relief order on the PDEA official, reminding all officials appointed by the President that they can be dismissed anytime for loss of confidence. Gutierrez told to resign A lawmaker yesterday said Gutierrez should immediately resign from his post and not wait for the result of the NBI probe owing to his failure to stamp out the worsening drug problem in the country. Gutierrez himself is under investigation by the NBI following allegations of Gadapan that his wife was using PDEA funds to pay off her gambling debts. “If we just talk about his (Gutierrez) performance, he should have resigned a long time ago,” Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said. “The fact that he (Gutierrez) was not able to curb it (drug problem) is already an indication of your performance,” she said. House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the illegal drug trade in the Philippines has reached an estimated value of P219 billion, or bigger than the combined budgets of three major agencies tasked to combat the narcotics scourge, including the PDEA and the Philippine National Police. But Gutierrez cried foul over allegations made by Gadapan that his wife has a gambling problem. “She is a private individual. Mali naman yun (That’s foul). We have a resident auditor from the Commission on Audit here. Do you think COA would allow that?” he said. The PDEA chief said his wife “has made a good name for herself” in her flower shop business. According to Gutierrez, even their children are “greatly depressed” because of the allegations. He also denied receiving P8 million from an arrested drug suspect. Employees of the agency yesterday issued a manifesto of support for Gutierrez. “We believe that the series of events in the last few days benefit only those we are fighting – organized drug syndicates, financiers, manufacturers, distributors and their cohorts. They may think that we are sidetracked from our main goal to go after them relentlessly and bring them to justice,” they said. “We assure the public that despite these distractions and efforts from drug syndicates, we are unwavering and steadfast in our sworn duties and responsibilities to the public,” they added. –With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero - By Reinir Padua