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No basis for NBI raps vs Marcelino–Gonzalez

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:33:00 01/20/2009

Filed Under: PDEA-DOJ bribery issue

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Prosecutors and officials of the Department of Justice (DoJ) who have gone on indefinite leave after being embroiled in a bribery scandal cannot return to work yet despite having been cleared by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Secretary Raul Gonzalez said Tuesday.

Gonzalez said an independent investigation should still be conducted into allegations the prosecutors were bribed into dismissing a drug case against three scions of prominent families.

At the same time, Gonzalez said there is no basis to file a case for obstruction of justice against Marine Major Ferdinand Marcelino, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent who exposed the alleged bribery.

“I don’t think that should be pursued. I don’t believe there’s really obstruction of justice there,” Gonzalez said of the recommendation to charge Marcelino.

The NBI had earlier said it might file charges against Marcelino for refusing to cooperate in its investigation of the alleged bribery.

“The [findings of the] NBI investigation is a good report, but critics will never be satisfied with that, especially because the NBI is under my office,” Gonzalez acknowledged.

This was the reason Marcelino gave when he explained that he could not appear before the NBI because he doubted its partiality, since it is an attached agency of the DoJ.

Marcelino led the operation that resulted in the arrest of Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson, who allegedly supplied ecstasy and cocaine to upscale Metro Manila night clubs.

The PDEA agent claimed a classmate at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) tried to bribe him to drop the charges against the three.

DoJ prosecutors later recommended the dismissal of charges against the three suspects, triggering the bribery allegations.

Gonzalez has yet to act on the recommendation.

Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, Senior State Prosecutor Philip Kimpo, State Prosecutors John Resado and Misael Ladaga were told to go on indefinite leave on orders of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“As far as I’m concerned, they [DoJ officials] cannot yet return…Still, it would be better to have a[n independent] panel, which will be constituted, and has nothing to do with the department,” he told reporters in Malacañang on the sidelines of the annual Vin d’Honneur reception for the diplomatic corps.

Gonzalez said the independent body has not been constituted since the government is still looking for a retired Supreme Court justice to head it, as requested by Arroyo.

He said it could be formed within 48 hours from Tuesday.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2009-01-20T14:00:36+00:00UTC01bUTCTue, 20 Jan 2009 14:00:36 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm01

Posted in Uncategorized

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