Weak evidence does PDEA case inBy Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) suffered another blow in its fight against drug traffickers after a Pasay judge acquitted on Wednesday two people the agency arrested during an entrapment operation last year.
According to Judge Racquelen Abary-Vasquez of the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 116, she found the evidence against Hong Kong citizen Li Wia Bin and Chinese-Filipino Carlos Ang Tan weak because of the conflicting testimonies given by PDEA and the local police. At the same time, she ordered their release from detention.
Vasquez’s ruling comes on the heels of the acquittal nearly two weeks ago of Joseph Tecson, the third member of the so-called “Alabang Boys,” due to the “vague answers” given by a PDEA agent who testified in court about the trio’s arrest in 2008.
Li and Ang Tan were arrested by PDEA agents during an entrapment operation at a hotel in Resorts World Manila last year. Accused of trying to sell a kilo of cocaine worth P5 million to a poseur buyer on February 10 last year, they were charged with violating Section 5 (sale of dangerous drugs) of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Following the arrest of the two men, PDEA announced that Ang Tan was wanted by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the Philippine National Police-Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force for drug smuggling and importation.
“It was not substantiated. There were no documents to prove the claims. So those were mere allegations,” Vasquez said.
She added that the witnesses presented by PDEA and the Pasay police offered “completely contradictory” statements on the conduct of the entrapment operation.
She noted that PDEA had said the buy-bust took place inside Maxims Hotel while the police said it happened outside.
Vasquez, however, said she found it hard to believe that the police were able to sneak firearms and other contraband items inside the hotel despite its strict security measures.