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Jinggoy all out for Marcos’ defense in PDEA case

SEN. Jinggoy Estrada — in the third hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order investigating allegations that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in 2012 was a cocaine user — demonstrated such disdain and contempt for the accuser, former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent Jonathan Morales, that his shameless behavior can be explained by one and only one thing.

He has become so servile to Marcos that he has internalized the President’s seething rage against Morales, so obvious in a recent “ambush” interview” in which Marcos called Morales a “professional liar.” That’s the first time that a president of the Republic has stooped so low as to cuss in such a manner at a lowly citizen. Estrada has taken the President’s cue, and called Morales a “congenital liar.”

One can’t blame Estrada: he was convicted of bribery last January and sentenced to 12 years. His only real chance of evading a long jail term is for President Marcos to use all his influence for his conviction to be reversed by some court.

Estrada took up probably an hour of the hearing’s duration to claim that Morales’ allegations weren’t credible since he has been accused of both criminal and administrative charges. It seemed strange, though, that for his alleged crime of “planting evidence” against a Chinese-Filipino couple, it was only the Civil Service Commission that acted on the complaint by simply ordering him fired — for “dishonesty.”

Morales had a simple retort to Estrada’s strained efforts to portray him as a criminal, whose allegations, therefore, should posthaste be thrown to the wastebasket: “If I had such a bad record, why was I admitted as an agent of the PDEA, and complied with its requirements?”

Discredit

Estrada wasn’t thinking right when he adopted a strategy of highlighting the criminal and administrative charges against Morales to discredit his testimony. The senator was convicted by the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court last January of a crime that makes the accusations against the PDEA agent seem petty. It was a classic case of that biblical saying of an accuser with a wooden beam in his eye.

That Sandiganbayan decision concluded that at least half of the P262 million of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF, the official term for congressional pork barrel) allocated to Estrada from 2004 to 2008 rather than being used to provide livelihood projects for the poor was instead mainly turned over to Pauline Mary Labayen, Estrada’s deputy chief of staff. Prosecutors claimed that Labayen was merely acting as an agent for Estrada in collecting the stolen funds.

However, Labayen vanished in 2014 when the charges were filed, and it is strange — and suspicious, I think — that the authorities haven’t been looking for her.

Morales was irreverent enough to remind Estrada that while he had cases filed against him, the senator was already convicted of a crime. He said in Filipino: “Your honor, I don’t like what Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is saying about me. He seems to be judging me. I only have cases that are yet to be proven before the court. Unlike our good senator, who is already convicted.”

Backlash

Estrada’s behavior certainly had a backlash. Becoming viral on social media was a video clip with him saying, “I am a man of conviction,” with an unidentified man beside him suppressing his laughter, and then an image of the newspaper article on his conviction for bribery. Jinggoy was called in so many internet posts using the rhyming Filipino term for monkey.

While Morales certainly isn’t a saint, and may have even planned to benefit in some way from his accusations against the President, my conclusion is that the “Pre-Operation Report” and “Authority to Report” he signed that would have had the PDEA investigate the report on Marcos taking cocaine with friends but was aborted is authentic. I base this conclusion on the following:

1. An under-reported revelation was committee chairman Sen. Ronald de la Rosa’s disclosure that his own informant had reported to him it was one “Ian,” who was Morales’ informant who also provided cell phone videos of Marcos, actor Maricel Soriano, and other females and males in the cocaine-taking party. That corroborates Morales’ claims. “Ian,” de la Rosa claimed, was a sort of an adopted son (“anak-anakan” in Filipino) of Soriano, who probably stayed with her but hated the cocaine parties there.

2. Soriano has admitted that she owned the condominium unit that Morales, in his “pre-operation” and “authority to operate” documents, had identified as the site where the cocaine-taking parties were being undertaken. Of all places, how could Morales have identified that place?

Powerful

3. Why would Morales invent an allegation against the most powerful man in the country at this time? If he intended to blackmail him, it was clearly too late, as the allegation had already been revealed by the anonymous vlogger “Maharlika.” He would have faced slander charges if he had admitted that he had faked the documents.

4. Senator de la Rosa, a veteran police investigator, pointed to the detail of a paper fastener’s punch marks in the two documents, indicating that these were part of a file that Morales claimed contained the informant’s affidavit and cellphone images taken by the informant of the personalities taking cocaine. For de la Rosa to claim that he would bet his life, and in the third hearing his penis, that Morales’ documents were authentic, he must know something he hasn’t revealed or cannot reveal.

5. President Rodrigo Duterte, in November 2021, during the election campaign, claimed that one of the presidential candidates was a cocaine user and was on the PDEA’s drug-user watch list, whom many in the know concluded was Marcos. His allegation was unexpected and strange since he and his political forces supported Marcos. The former president, I think, has this uncontrollable urge to reveal to people things he knew were important. His revelation about Marcos in 2021 bolsters the authenticity of Morales’ allegations.

6. A person who passed away in 2016 was mentioned by Morales as having been with Marcos often in those cocaine-taking sessions. I knew that person, whom Morales could not have known in 2012 as close to Marcos. In my circle of Ateneo high school classmates, indeed, that person was known to have been both a cocaine user and a close friend of the President since the martial law days.

Unclever

It was witless for Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who appeared at the hearing only to make a brief statement, to indirectly conclude, as Estrada directly claimed, that Morales’ claims were mere “hearsay.” But Morales didn’t claim he heard from somebody that PDEA agents were planning to surveil Marcos for cocaine use, which, however, was ordered stopped by a Malacañang official. Morales is claiming that he signed the orders to investigate Marcos.

After three hearings, most people concluded that Morales’ allegations had not been debunked.

There is no way, however, to establish definitively whether there were such planned operations, except if the informant’s actual affidavit and the cellphone images he took surface.

A body blow, though, has been inflicted on Marcos’ image. Filipinos would always wonder if he did take cocaine, and worse if he still does or will do so again in times of stress to the point that his brain becomes so clouded as to make reckless, unwise decisions that would terribly hurt the country.

The hearing yesterday ranked No. 1 as the most viewed and viral on YouTube that day. While reported by most TV channels and viral on social media, all but one broadsheet reported on the hearing, which echoed the Malacañang line of Morales being a liar. Sigh.


Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

X: @bobitiglao

My website: www.rigobertotiglao.com

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