• ‘Tokhang’ prisoner seeks speedy justice

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    Efren Danao

    PROPONENTS of an iron-fisted approach against illegal drugs cite atrocious crimes committed by drug users, pushers and traders. But what if a person suspected by the police is a peace-loving citizen who has never been charged with even a petty crime? Shouldn’t this give pause to an “intelligence report” against such a person?

    Those who have no pity for drug suspects say that these persons engender crime in the locality. But what if the locality where a drug suspect lives is one of the most peaceful barangays in the town? This should further downgrade any report of drug trading in that locality

    A drug pusher should have a lot of money derived from the illegal activity. What if an arrested drug suspect is neck-deep in debt with farming as his main source of income, and with a measly P15 found in the house? Clear-thinking policemen should have immediately doused any suspicion that that man is in drugs.

    Yet, such a man has been languishing in jail for almost two months. I personally know Joven Dadag, councilman of Barangay Mapangpang, Lupao, Nueva Ecija and nephew of my wife, so I found it hard to believe that he was in drugs, either as a user or pusher. He was arrested by policemen from Cabanatuan under circumstances that could make one’s blood boil.

    Dadag said he and his wife Gina were awakened at past5 a.m. on January 21when two persons, both wearing masks, kicked open the door to their house, then pointed their guns at them while identifying themselves as police. Gina said one of the two was a woman because of her voice when she told her “Huwag po kayong matakot, Nanay,” while pointing a gun at her.

    They then asked the couple to leave the house. Gina and Joven said they saw a policeman put something in a wallet lying around the house as they were leaving. They said they saw many policeman and a Bombo Radyo reporter with the arresting group. Some policemen then entered their house and came out with a wallet containing two sachets of 0.005 grams of shabu and P15.

    Gina claimed that the wallet was hers but it was Joven who was charged with illegal possession of drugs. His bail was set at P200,000 but the surety bond was pegged at P45,000. He’s still detained at the BJMP jail in San Jose for failure to raise the bail money immediately.

    Joven said that before his arrest, he was visited by a police investigator from San Fernando, Pampanga who told him that they had received a text message identifying him as a big-time drug pusher in Nueva Ecija. He said he couldn’t be a drug pusher or drug user because he was even cleared to donate blood to relatives with dengue fever. “Mabait ka naman pala,” he quoted the investigator as saying.

    Definitely, he couldn’t be accused of being a drug user because on the day of his arrest, he was taken to Cabanatuan City and given a drug test. The test result was negative.

    Joven said he borrowed money from relatives and friends to raise P50,000 for his surety bond, including P20,000 using his only farm property of one-fourth hectare as collateral. He has a lot of debts, including P27,000 as advance for his honorarium as barangay councilman. Recently, he sold his BMX motorbike for just P18,000 so he could pay his debts.

    When I visited him last Wednesday, he said the P50,000 had already been given by a relative to a lawyer in Munoz, P45,000 for his bond and P5,000 for the lawyer. He expressed hope that he would be provisionally released within this month. The lawyer’s office was closed when I went there to inquire about the status of Joven’s surety bond. Joven said the lawyer still has to visit him and discuss his case.

    A provisional release, however, wouldn’t be enough to give justice to this farmer. A war against illegal drugs should be supported but authorities should make sure innocent persons do fall victim. They shouldn’t give credence to mere text messages imputing crime against a person.

    The raid conducted in Joven’s house in the early morning of January 21was by virtue of a search warrant issued by a judge in faraway Gapan. There were no witnesses when the police allegedly found two sachets of shabu and P15 in the wallet of Gina. She could not be charged for who would believe that a woman who could barely walk is a drug pusher?

    There have been many suspicious police operations in the drive against illegal drugs. I hope PNP chief “Bato” dela Rosa and Sen. Ping Lacson will look into the case of Joven Dadag and the planting of evidence against him.

    I hope the guilty policemen would be sent to fight the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

    19espiloy47@gmail.com

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    2 Comments

    1. Mr. Danao, it is good that you highlight this case but it is sad that an innocent person is being victimized simply because of a text message claiming that he is a drug pusher/user. Duterte has lists of so called drug pushers/users but he has refused to divulge how these lists were drawn up. As president, he needs to be transparent on how these lists were produced, and he should allow those accused to be given a chance to prove their innocence. It is very unfortunate for those whose names are on these lists who have been summarily executed.

    2. I hope the guilty policemen would be sent to fight the Abu Sayyaf
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      The guilty police should be sent to jail instead of transferring them to another part of the country where they will prey upon different citizens.

      Bato needs to be replaced with a police director who knows how to reform a police force, Bato is clueless and the police continue to frame innocent people shows that Bato has not done anything to stop the police corruption.