Sacked PDEA official fails to get allies in Senate

Senators on Monday doubted the testimony of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official who claimed to have been wrongfully ousted from his post.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Gregorio Honasan and Miriam Defensor-Santiago said as a presidential appointee, former PDEA deputy director general Carlos Gadapan has no right to contest his removal from office.

"Ang mahalaga rito ay ‘yung presidential prerogative. You are appointed by the President, you are removed by the President, and he does not have to explain to you," Honasan said in an interview after Monday's investigation on the issue.

"If it's in the prerogative of the President, wala ka na magagawa talaga.

Even without trust and confidence talagang prerogative ng Presidente ‘yun kung papalitan ka," said Sotto, who initiated the investigation, in a separate interview.

During the day's inquiry, Santiago pointed out that Gadapan may have publicly complained about his removal from office due to anger.

"Nagalit ka lang talaga dahil tinanggal ka. Ngayon nakakabigla ‘yan dahil pag tinanggal ang tao hindi siya dapat magrereklamo kung siya ay presidential appointee because we all who have been presidential appointees realize fully that you were serving at the pleasure of the President," she told Gadapan.

Different forum

Senators said Gadapan should have sought a different forum to air his grievances instead of going to the media.

"Unfair ‘yung inuna nilang magsalita in public instead of the proper mechanisms or forum," said Honasan.

Gadapan claimed he was removed from office because of his actions informing PDEA director general Jose Gutierrez about his (Gutierrez’s) wife’s gambling problems.

Gutierrez, during Monday’s hearing, denied this and said Gadapan was removed from office for several reasons, including being a "security risk."

Whose gambling problem?

Gadapan, however, said he has proof that Gutierrez's wife has been using her husband's name and the PDEA to get loans.

"According to the informant... laging sinasabi po ni [Mrs. Gutierrez], anyway bahala na diyan si DG [director general]," he said, adding that she’s been introducing herself as the wife of PDEA director general.

But Santiago said there's nothing wrong with giving character references. "That is not a crime," she said, adding it was natural for Mrs. Gutierrez to incur debts as she has a flower shop business.

She also said Mrs. Gutierrez’s supposed gambling problem — assuming she has one — does not concern the agency.

"Let's just assume that she has a bad gambling habit, ‘yun naman ay pribado sa kanila. There is no national interest involved kaya lang pilit mo tinatie-up sa PDEA," Santiago told Gadapan.

Visits to casino

Santiago also questioned Gadapan why he himself was spotted in a casino as shown in some videos circulating on the Internet.

Gadapan said he only goes to specific casinos at least twice a month to meet informants regarding the surveillance of laundered drug money.

"I'm just meeting some people there," he said — an answer that failed to satisfy the feisty Santiago.

"Really?” Santiago said. “Why don't you meet them somewhere else? Why do you have to meet them in the casino and blow your cover?"

"Ito lang ‘yung time na nandun sila," Gadapan answered.

“More fiction than fact”

To this Santiago said: "I am a former RTC (regional trial court) judge, I'm also a creative literature writer. It seems to me that what you're telling is more fiction than fact."

Even Sotto, who initiated the investigation on Gapadan's removal, said Santiago raised some valid points.

"It was not very clear, the answers were not clear.

Parang medyo disappointing to a certain extent.

Hindi masyadong na-eksplika hindi na-back-upan ng ebidensya ‘yung mga alegasyon," he said.

"Siguro sa isang banda mabuti na rin ‘yung ganun sapagkat at least in my opinion nabawasan ‘yung gasgas ng PDEA. Hindi pala tama ‘yung mabibigat na alegasyon against the PDEA itself," added Sotto. — KBK, GMA News