PDEA: Narcopolitics goes up to national level

PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago and Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino

PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago and Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino

PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago, together with Maj. Marcelino, talked to FOCAP recently about the problem of illegal drugs in the Philippines. Santiago said they have information that some government officials are involved, all the way up to the cabinet level, but they do not have enough evidence — as of yet — to prosecute.
The 2010 elections will be a double edged sword, Marcelino said: some politicians, who rely on money from the illegal drugs trade, will be more active. At the same time, their political rivals could be expected to give PDEA information on the illegal drug trade.
“We are waiting for more quarrels. Even political quarrels,” Santiago said.

Santiago: Pdea is one agency that has no problem with money…pdea recipient of 407b, 40% of total. What happened was it took a while before pdea was able to come out as org. it was there without plantilla so congress cannot allocate money for org which was non existent. We had plantilla only 2007. We got the money approved by congress, dbm, president, to pay the salaries of the employees but we were not given money for recruitment. We were supposed to recruit in three tranches and per tranch P17b, where will be get that. The anti graft comission came to the rescue and we were able to justify. If we get the wrong recruit, we are in trouble. Pdea is just a year old, basically.

There are national level politicians, all levels. The biggest problem here is how you know but not apprehending. Not only were the politicians, normally don’t handle operations. they have lieutenants you can put a lot of lieutenants in jail and the big boss is still out. …that personality used to be operating anti drug until able to put up money now running legal business…solution is lifestyle check and money laundering. We follow the us model, you cannot capture al capone you hit him through irs. In the us setting and other developed countries, assets are frozen while the case is ongoing. In the rp setting, you can only freeze assets upon conviction and you know how long it takes in our country to get a conviction. Estafa case will take you 17 years.

Q: how much illegal drugs trade worth in rp, any active support from other law enforcement agencies
A: most of big syndicate international busted by phil drug law enforcement in cooperation with our foreign counterparts, Taiwan, china, korea is cmoing in strong because of increase of Koreans in country. Usda in facilities and training. New Zealand…they will be giving us training on crime lab, forensic, clandestine laboratory…French national police financial investigation. Japanese forensic lab, donated some equipment and training technicians in terms of forensic lab exams. In terms of value it is fluctuating, on year to year basis. This year gone down tremendously because of accomplishment of all enforcement agencies. If all agencies will just work eventually…asking if certain personalities still active…if we dismantle a clandestine lab without people, the people will not be coming anymore. You don’t use it anymore. We watch you, your entry to phils…this is operational…from time they arrive to time they clear land, deal building, setting up equipment, we are watching them. Just waiting for them to manufacture so we will have enough basis…if it is pdea, if there are no personalities apprehended, because based on information we get from our counterparts they are not coming anymore. The key personnel there are the chemists. In angeles city, those were top rated chemists, because efficiency is 80%.

In the intl drug enforcement conference…working group…and international…and roving chemist operation plan…the chemists are monitored worldwide, when they move from one country to another…that’s how closely knit the drug agencies…in the international scene, now level, no increase, no decrease. In terms of syndicates, the thrust is to pull down the level of affectation…P400b, 300b per year but that is..if you compare the phil situation this is very small. In one bust in columbia $1-4b were apprehended in one house, in one operation alone. We know there are more but we are working on that.

Q: online trade, new thing? Connection of alabang boys?
A: let us not use the alabang boys for this issue.

Maj. Marcelino.

Maj. Marcelino.

Marcelino: in some of the drug cases which we handled some of the suspects admitted they are using internet to remit payment in the drug lords from whom they are getting their stuff abroad. Recently we…wherein a group ordered drugs from California, sent through parcel services, paid through internet using paypal among others.

We found one…forgot name of online gaming where they used to bet, and payment remitted also through that game, using the internet.
Q: but actually drugs
A: drugs that they are transacting, just using internet game as front.
Q: using credit cards
A: up to now not found because using credit cards can be easily traced.

Harder because first we have to establish to get the stuff and even if we will find they are paying, without drugs you can’t simply apprehend them. Unless the drug is there already. How can we prove that payment was for drugs without the drugs.

Santiago: ..this is smuggling…if you know the history of smuggling…traditional smuggling points in country, cavite and navotas. Dinggalan in quezon…in terms of firearms…our limitation is one of problem…we have 190 cadets who are graduating, they will complement our drug enforcement officer force…February 16 to attend grad, drug enforcement officer who will eventually be at your core as soon as ready for deployment.

We are very tight on law enforcement, they try to do it by manufacturing. Sometimes combination of transshipment and importation…ecstasy..shipped through country, enter through some ports and exit through some other ports in the phils. Depends on sense of situation in phils, like water, go where the space is loose.

Q: have you identified international drug syndicates
A: we have two listed in the international target. We are required to submit a target…local law enforcement agencies we sit down and have an ob workshop, product of all drug enforcement agencies. Pnp is member of Interpol so they participate in Interpol workshop…we submit far east target together with other far eastern countries…in the listed targets in far east working group which officially became working list…we have transnational groups to be neutralized…pdea has now been catching…the listed no1-4 have been neutralized. Activity in Cagayan but not as extensive as it used to be.

Depends on where they can have protectors. Happy pres and dilg sec said that you have to work on them, no matter who gets hurt.

Q: elaborate on narco policies, elections, measures to counter
A: if you remember mayor mitra, quezon, it was a mayor who was caught. How come mayor mitra is now in jail but the Chinese financier is out of jail? There will be some case that will be reopened and reviewed by independent panel that president ordered created. We want to find out where the loopholes are. In some areas there seems to be common knowledge thing but nobody can really act on it and those politicians who we feel because of the nature of complaint are not into drugs, are the ones telling us and the pdea are receiving a lot of information. The least that we can do is more extensive intel work and get them if we are given the opportunity. We are watching and as soon as opportunities present themselves, undertake the necessary actions against these personalities.

Q: how extensive is military/police involvement in illegal drug activities…in terms of giving protection…
A: that is why we have controversy we have to thresh out. The positive thing is we saw the loopholes…only to find out not a problem of drug enforcement…we discover not only prosecutors but in the law itself or in procedure. There are specific provisions of law which on practical terms you cannot apply. In manner of interpretation, so go back to memo circular 46, provision for automatic review. We discovered you cannot fault prosecutors because there were some gray areas. On jan 5 removed gray area. That is an improvement, from there no more quarrel about possibility of being charged. Think good thing because both of us free from trouble of quarreling from each other. In the pdea we are institutionalizing everything, coming out with manuals of procedure even in recruitment…these manuals are honed towards specific uniqueness of drug situation in the country.

Among things that we gather during our raids are bank account numbers, job of amlac. We have a good working relationship with amlac. If we have suspicion…we request amlac to look into bank accounts of certain people. It has been going on even before my time. Very quickly, if I give a name, write name to amlac and they do the investigation.
Q:have you given names of prosecutors to amlac
A: we have our own method of getting there.

Q: how much of P330-400b for protection
A: per dealer ang puhunan daw is P500,000. I’m not saying there is protection money. I do not know.

Q: for elections
A: difficult to say. The problem there is for election if one involved is politician, everything goes to that purpose…the bulk of the syndicate that we have in our list are foreign syndicates.

Politicians…umabot na sa financier ang iba. Dati ginagamit lang sila…I cannot really come out with definitive answer when I have no concrete evidence yet. There are a lot of things which are common knowledge. In pdea and even police they have very solid information but as to evidence not solid, we are working on some of them and hope to catch them in action.

Q: how serious is threat to phil politics
A: sa number ng involved medyo hindi maganda. In level of local officials I consider it dangerous for the republic. Not good for the republic.

Subic there are a lot of stories and the most we can do based on our own personal knowledge…there are some speculations which you can say are valid or can be positively proved…personal knowledge is one thing providing evidence is another. A quarrel is a quarrel. One issue raised against us, why are we using quarrels of a family to come up with something. There are two lovers, man involved in drug pushing, lady discovered boyfriend had another sweetheart, quarreled, they reported to pdea and because of report we get the pusher, the lover. We are waiting for more quarrels. Even political quarrels.

Marcelino: some of them used to be just as protectors but recently we found out some already engaged in financing.

Santiago: I think there are some from them because of initiative of somebody who is against someone who he says is into narcotics. I got that money, 30m, because of a politician who wants help to fight. Another politician, I told him, 6 months before election, I told him, you’re done. That’s how much we know, but coming out and getting that person is difficult because he does not handle evidences. The most that we can is disturb their operation by operating on the lower level and we were quite successful in that. Other step is to have the amlac.

Q: drugs threat to security as serios as npa
A: somebody has said bigger than other threats. I think we should agree because the other threats to national security, for as long as minds not affected by drugs can deal with them rationally, but how do you deal with somebody with a damaged brain. We can still negotiate with cpp-npa…but how can you settle a problem when you are dealing with somebody mentally deranged already?

Q: more details on narco terrorism…
A: insofar as marijuana concerned issue raised against npa and there are lots of stories in north about that.

Marcelino: three asg killed in tawi-tawi by members of naval security and intel group last year. Carrying about 100k of dried marijuana leaves to be transported to Malaysia. Case operation in sulu…uprooted and eradicated six hectares of marijuana found in lairs of abu sayyaf. One of the leaders…the tomb of one of leaders was found in that area in maimbung sulu. About 30-40m pesos.

Q: how big is problem of drug trading in Mindanao, especially conflict areas
A: (santiago) it is one of our major concerns, but very political so we have to be very careful about it. Things we want to do but cannot…because of political implication. Have to be more solid in evidence we are presenting. We do not want to accuse any quarters of accusing us of any wrongdoing unless we have proven it
Q: local officials involved
A: very much, some mayors involved, names mentioned in conference but we cannot disclose. Down to mayor level…

Q: drugs and kidnapping
A: there was a time we discovered that some soldiers…there was so much trouble in south we had to recruit…we had to recruit a lot of people…one group, when there was a plane that crashed…some of them using marijuana…reason was… in Mindanao there are so many cold areas…we discovered some soldiers using marijuana but that was long time ago, that was corrected. Now in military…mandatory drug testing so that issue has long been gone with military. In cotabato city…pdea came into being 2002… But as per our record we have not had successful conviction since year 2000. Nito lang 2008 when I directly told people I think you are being paid…told them make money in some undertakings but not drugs.

Marcelino: last night…drilon said some kidnappers using marijuana as she observed…statistics…cases which had been convicted, 6,649 cases (32%) (28)for 2008. 5,732 dismissed cases. 2,315 (11) provisionally dismissed. 6,025 acquitted.

santiago: 99,000 cases since the time of ndep…advantage of having president come into picture is there is now command instruction given to all of us…to have review of around 12 major cases and around 200 more. This will be the priority…at the higher court level. Even at rtc level…would like to emphasize here…even if dismissed…what worries drug enforcement people…reversals and dismissals…12 major cases, very few, but involves syndicates and laboratories. You can have 70,000 all possessors and pushers, we are talking here about transnational syndicates. These are the cases that will be reviewed. President came into picture, so everybody is cooperating. These are cases that we inherited.

We may not have the equipment but we have the people. In the final analysis it is the people that is the key here. We discovered this because our people are very good people. Whole international community is having problem because of this IT thing. It is a problem that is being addressed. The good thing about the more developed countries…we just adopt measures they have undertaken. British, Europeans are spending…assistance are fruits from the studies…finetune in accordance with local situation, we don’t need to have money, just attend and exchange with more developed and more advanced countries. There are lots of systems in place and if you don’t know how to take advantage of them you have a problem.


One Response

  1. sir major ferdinand marcelino proud of you
    sir hinahangaan ko po kayo dahil sa inyong katapangan at pagiging matapat sa bayan,
    sir sana ipag patuloy nyo ang inyong nasimulan para sa bayan
    sir satotoolang noon pangarap kong maging sicret agent
    pero ngayon, iba na po ang pangarap ko ngayon,
    gusto ko po maging pma
    para sa bayan,
    sir hinahangaan ko po kayo at tutularan ko po ang isang tulad nyo
    sir very proud of you

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