PDEA: City Hall employees used shabu while in uniform, during office hours; ‘Bitag’ did not cover it

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/23 January) The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is in possession of six video footages showing employees of Malaybalay City Hall using shabu during office hours and caught on camera while in uniform, the PDEA officer in charge in Bukidnon told Bukidnon News.
The PDEA official who asked not to be named for security reasons said they presented the evidence to Malaybalay City Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri on January 16.
The PDEA official said there is an increasing prevalence of public officials and employees in Bukidnon who are using illegal drugs, most of them from prominent families. He said they, too, are placed under surveillance subject of their future operations.
The videos showed eight persons in pot session, some of them in city government office uniform and were videoed during office hours, the PDEA official added. But he said the video footages were taken in an area that appears to be outside City Hall compound.
PDEA Bukidnon refused to reveal the names of the suspects referring reporters to the city government.
“The mayor vowed to file administrative charges against the employees,” the official said. Zubiri also told the PDEA official that the employees will be permanently barred from public office based on civil service rules.
Zubiri, who was reported to be on leave, refused to take Bukidnon News calls since last week on the issue.
City Councilor Roland Deticio, a lawyer, said six employees of the city government resigned even before administrative charges were filed against them last week.
Deticio said the employees subject of the report were job order employees and therefore not subject for administrative charges. He added that only regular and casual employees will go through the administrative process.
The PDEA official said he has not confirmed if reports the employees were terminated or resigned as Mayor Zubiri is yet to submit official documents of their action to PDEA.
Bukidnon News sources said the employees were allegedly members of the staff of Mayor Zubiri, one of them a relative of a high-ranking city government official. The city government official also did not take calls from this reporter on the issue.
Bukidnon News obtained list of names of the suspects from unofficial sources but will defer publication until it obtains an official copy.
PDEA won’t press criminal charges against the employees and instead submitted them to the administrative decision of the city government, the PDEA source said.
The PDEA official earlier said they have enough evidence that would prove the employees used shabu.
But he told this reporter on January 23, they were not able to obtain enough evidence even if he said the suspects are liable for illegal use, which is an offence that can be bailed.
“The video footages are inadmissible as evidence in court,” he added in the interview via telephone.
He denied they were compromised because subject of their investigation were “big fish.” He said they looked at the matter as a sensitive subject because of their follow up operations.
The PDEA official also denied reports the surveillance operations were covered by television expose program “Bitag” (trapped), which airs on TV5.

The show is an “investigative and public service program” hosted by Ben Tulfo and produced by BST Tri-Media Productions. it first aired on Associated Broadcasting Company (now TV5) before moving the following year to Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and now back on TV5.

But the PDEA official admitted it was part of the original plan to have it covered on television.
“It became difficult to gather them together to be captured on camera,” he added. PDEA Bukidnon has put the employees under surveillance for almost a year, the official added. Another agent told this reporter earlier they were under surveillance for almost two years.

Bukidnon News sought the Bitag anchors through the hotline numbers posted on their website. But the mobile and landline numbers kept on ringing and left unanswered since last week. Malaybalay residents, taking the cue from forwarded text messages, awaited the airing of the episodes on Friday and Saturday nights. But no episodes on the issue were aired.
The PDEA official denied the Bitag production staff joined them in their surveillance operations. He also denied they gave a copy of the videos to ‘Bitag.’
But he said the PDEA regional office has the discretion if they will decide to provide a copy of the video to the media.(Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

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