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Ex-PDEA agent stands firm on allegations about Marcos drug-use probe

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FORMER Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent Jonathan Morales stood by his claim at Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing that he recommended the surveillance of then-senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in 2012 for cocaine use, but his higher-ups ordered him to abort the operation.

Morales’ orders were in the form of a “pre-operation report” and “authority to operate,” dated March 11, 2012, against “Bongbong Marcos @ Bonget and some unidentified male and female cohorts.”

Sen. Ronald de la Rosa, chairman of the Committee on Public Order, said he would “bet his life” that the PDEA documents showing that Morales had recommended the Marcos investigation for cocaine use were “authentic,” based on his analysis of the facts, the testimonies made and the images of the documents.

As if he were Marcos’ representative, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada shamelessly bullied and badgered Morales to destroy his credibility based on the ups and downs of his career. Morales, however, debunked Estrada’s allegations that he was dismissed from the Philippine National Police, pointing out that he had gone on leave and that the PDEA could not have accepted him as an agent if he had not passed the new agency’s rigorous recruitment processes for its agents.

Estrada’s behavior certainly demonstrated his haughtiness and belligerence against a witness called by the committee, unbecoming of a senator. He was not at the hearing to pursue the truth but to simply discredit the witness. Why so? Or for whom? After his performance at the hearing, I bet Marcos would have called him to thank him and invited him to dinner.

Go

All of the 10 members of de la Rosa’s committee didn’t attend the hearing last week, raising suspicions that they didn’t want to cross Marcos and help in his exposure as a former cocaine user. Sen. Bong Go, however, called me to explain that he could not attend it as he was the chairman of the Committee on Health and had a crucial meeting on the same date and time. The hearing yesterday was attended, other than Estrada, by Senators Robinhood Padilla, Go, Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, all of whom left in about 15 minutes after making brief statements that questioned Morales’ credibility or claims. Estrada attended for about 15 minutes after he thought — mistakenly — that he had done his job of destroying Morales’ credibility, leaving the meeting room with an unmistakable body language of disdain toward the witness.

ALONE AGAIN Senate hearing Tuesday, May 7, 2024, on PDEA leaks and an operation to investigate Marcos Jr.’s cocaine use. Senator de la Rosa, alone in the last hearing, is still alone. SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

In the first hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order last week, Morales claimed that he was told by Deputy Director General Carlos Gadapan that it was Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa who had asked him to abort in 2012 Morales’ planned operation to investigate Marcos for cocaine use based on an informant’s allegation that included a video of the then-senator at a cocaine-use party. Ochoa did not attend the hearing yesterday; he ignored the committee’s subpoena for him to appear before the committee.

Morales also disclosed that a week after he was told to abort the probe, he was called to Malacañang by the presidential adviser on police affairs and asked to give him and his staff a briefing on PDEA’s work. He was surprised, though, why it was he who was called and not the PDEA director general and why the Malacañang officials were so critical of the agency. Morales said he concluded that the meeting was intended to indirectly confirm to him that Ochoa did direct PDEA to stop the investigation of Marcos.

New revelations made at the hearing were as follows: First, that before the hearing yesterday, certain persons had approached Morales asking him not to attend the hearing and stop his allegations regarding the president in March 2012. Morales claimed that one Eric Santiago and James Kumar had asked him to stop his public allegations about Marcos and told him that he would get whatever position he wanted in government. De la Rosa ordered that the two people mentioned be summoned to the committee’s next hearing.

Condominium

Second, the actress Maricel Soriano owned the condominium unit, which Morales had identified in his orders as the place where he planned to surveil and investigate the reports of Marcos’ cocaine use. Morales’ orders identified Soriano, other than Marcos, as the subject of the cocaine-use investigation.

Third, the ex-PDEA agent claimed that one of the persons in the cellphone video his informant showed him as using cocaine was a “Bong Daza.” “Daza” is the late Gabriel Daza 3rd, who died in 2016. He was known to have been one of Marcos Jr.’s closest friends, with a reputation for being with him to dissuade him from supporting Marcos at many of his intimate parties.

One explanation for this episode is that a ranking PDEA official in 2021 had leaked the Morales documents to Duterte to dissuade him from supporting Marcos, who was running for president. Duterte, however, stuck to his decision to support Marcos, although he had mysteriously disclosed in a public speech at the time that a “presidential candidate” was a regular cocaine user, as reported in a drug-addict watch list that he had read. Perhaps it was Duterte’s way of sending a message to Marcos that he had something on him, that he better treat his daughter Sara as an important ally.

In November last year, two factions in the PDEA emerged, one of which was against its head, Moro Virgilio Lazo, a former PNP general who formerly headed the Special Action Force and wanted him out. It was this faction that leaked the Morales orders to the popular blogger Maharlika, in order to discredit Lazo as unable to keep a tight ship at PDEA.

When Morales learned about the leaked documents, he informed the PDEA head Moro Virgilio Lazo that he had nothing to do with it and that the agency should investigate how the documents were leaked, find out if the original documents were still in some PDEA office, or trace how it could have been stolen.

Morales said Lazo didn’t reply at all, and fearing that he would be blamed for the leak and killed, he agreed to be interviewed by the blogger Maharlika last week.

Maharlika

The two orders that Maharlika has so far made public were from a file that would have contained the informant’s affidavit and four images from cellophane videos that supposedly showed Marcos, the actor Soriano and Daza.

I suspect that Maharlika has had these documents for some time and would release them as the climax to her protracted coverage to prove incontrovertibly that Marcos was indeed a regular cocaine user. Indeed, Maharlika has since November popularized the use of the term for Filipino shortbread called “polvoron” to mean cocaine and has often referred to Marcos as the “polvoronic president.”

The credibility of the Morales allegations is that these simply confirm Duterte’s disclosure in 2021 that there was a “presidential candidate” who was a cocaine user, citing reports from a “government agency.” How could Morales’ allegations be a black-propaganda operation against Marcos in order to topple him when Duterte made the allegations back in 2021, before the 2022 elections?

Estrada is so dull-witted, as he essentially is, to think that his attempt at character assassination of Morales can belie Duterte’s claims made in 2021. Even if Morales were a murderer or a swindler, that is totally irrelevant to whether or not he ordered the operations in 2021 to investigate Marcos for cocaine use.


Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

X: @bobitiglao

My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

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