Bail for governor's nephew in drug bust hit
CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga--Officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the provincial prosecutor in Zambales clashed over the prosecutor’s order on Monday to release a nephew of Governor Vicente Magsaysay and his two companions over a drug offense.
Supt. Jerome Baxinela, PDEA acting regional director, said he found it “irregular” for Prosecutor Nini Cruz to allow the temporary release of Enrique Magsaysay Jr., Christopher Dilag and Noel Tonel.
PDEA operatives arrested the three men while they were allegedly in a shabu session inside the compound of Segundo Cervantes in Calapacuan village in Subic, Zambales, on July 22, according to a PDEA report.
A small plastic bag of "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride), a strip of aluminum foil and a lighter were seized from the three men, the report added.
Baxinela has appealed to Cruz to allow the agency to regain custody of the suspects.
At the center of the dispute is whether it was correct to give temporary
freedom to supposed violators of Section 13, Article 2 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165).
Section 13, according to Baxinela, does not provide bail or even temporary liberty for three persons found using illegal drugs during parties and other gatherings.
Cruz, in her July 15 order, allowed the release of Magsaysay and his companions since the PDEA failed to submit the result of the drug test within the prescribed period of 36 hours.
However, Cruz ordered a preliminary investigation.
In a phone interview, Cruz said the release was in order because the pieces of evidence presented by the law enforcers were “incomplete.” She said the law allowed the men their right to temporary freedom. “This is part of the regular preliminary investigation,” she said.
Cruz said Cervantes, the house owner, was detained for alleged drug pushing.
As of Wednesday, Baxinela said his agency has not yet received the results of the tests done by the Philippine National Police’s crime laboratory in Zambales.
Operatives found the delay “unusual” because it normally takes 24 hours to get the results of a test.
When Baxinela inquired about the delay, he was told that the confirmation process on the urine samples they submitted was taking time.
Governor Magsaysay, in a telephone interview, said he had “not interfered ever in the case.” “Wala akong pakialam diyan, maski kamag-anak ko pa (I don’t have any interest in the case even if he was my relative),” he said.
The younger Magsaysay, 37, a businessman, is the governor’s nephew by his cousin Enrique Sr., the former mayor of Castillejos town.