Santiago admits no direct knowledge of bribery at DoJ

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Dionisio Santiago yesterday exonerated senior Justice Department officials from charges of bribery, admitting that he had no evidence or direct knowledge that DoJ officials received bribes to dismiss the drug case against three scions of wealthy families.

Santiago told an independent panel created to investigate the bribery allegations that he has no personal knowledge that prosecutors and Justice officials did receive P50 million bribe in exchange for a favorable resolution for the Alabang Boys.

“We have no evidence, no information to confirm that they receive the bribe. We don’t have direct knowledge,” he told the panel headed by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Carolina Grino-Aquino. Members of the panel are Sandiganbayan Justice Raoul Victorino and San Beda Graduate School Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino.

The PDEA chief said charges hurled against Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, Senior State Prosecutor Philip Quimpo and State Prosecutor John Resado were only “suppositions.”

“The case against the suspects was dismissed so suddenly so this made us wonder why,” Santiago said.

He however confirmed that a bribe of P20 million was offered to Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino.

Marcelino, PDEA Special Enforcement Services head, reiterated that Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor tried to call him up “many times” to intercede and request for the immediate release of Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson before Christmas last year.

Marcelino told the panel that Blancaflor called him up twice on Dec. 19 to inquire why the suspects have not been released when there was already a resolution dismissing the case.

On Dec. 22, Blancaflor again called him up about five times to compel him to hold a press conference to clear him of allegations that he interceded in behalf of the three suspects.

“When he called me during the PDEA Christmas party to inquire about the case, I did not at that time find the act questionable. Later on, after I found out that it was Blancaflor who was facilitating the release order of the boys, that was when I found his actions malicious,” he told the panel.

When asked if he had any direct or indirect information as to the alleged bribery of DoJ officials, Marcelino said that he began to have suspicions when his informant told him about the supposed impending release of the suspects. He said the informant told him P20 million changed hands at the DoJ.

Brodett, Joseph, and Tecson were arrested in September last year for selling and possession of cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy tablets.