The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will investigate the conduct of its November 6 raid of a beach party in Davao de Oro after allegations that several partygoers were set free, including former Davao City Information Office (CIO) head Jefry Tupas.
Tupas will be “part of the investigation” ordered by PDEA Director General Wilkens Villanueva, said the PDEA Davao Regional Director Lovitos who was invited to the AFP-PNP Southern Mindanao online press conference on Wednesday.
Lovitos answered questions raised by media following up to the claims made by detained suspects in a video interview posted by Newsline Philippines that law enforcers let Tupas and several others free and placed the seized illegal drugs on them.
The director brushed off the claims and said the raid were after “target personalities” which led to the arrests of 17 persons.
“Our operation is a planned operation. It’s a buy-bust operation, it’s not an in flagrante delicto (warrantless arrest) operation wherein by chance lang. So, so nakita natin if it’s a planned operation meron na talaga tayong subjects of the operation. Meron na tayong minamanmanan na drug personalities. So during that time, ang ating main subject ay nandyan as well as yung other personalities again subject sila nag ating operation. (So, we see that if it’s a planned operation there are subjects of the operation. We have tracked drug personalities. So during that time, our main subject (sic) is there as well as other personalities who are again subjects of our operation)Again sabi ko it’s a planned operation that is why these drug personalities were the ones that we arrested,” she said.
Earlier, PDEA reported that the target of the raid was the party host Revsan Ethelbert Elizalde. Lovitos said Elizalde had been peddling illegal drugs such as the party drug ecstasy in Davao Region.
Fourteen of the 17 arrested tested positive for illegal substances, Lovitos said, and they will face trial for violating the Dangerous Drugs Act.
In the Newsline interview, detained suspects told a different story of the raid on November 6.
They said there were around 50 people who attended the party, and Tupas was with them when PDEA agents and other law enforcers arrived.
According to the suspects, they overheard Tupas saying “Staff ko ni Inday Sara, unsa ni sir? (I’m a staff of Inday Sara, what is this about, sir?)” Tupas was referring to Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte-Carpio.
They said that they were held in separate places. Then they heard an agent asking, “Asa diri si (Where is) Jefry Tupas?”
Later, they found out she was not seen afterwards. Then, they were photographed with confiscated drug items they claimed came from Tupas.
Tupas released a statement on Monday claiming that she left earlier with two of her companions as she had work, on a Sunday.
Because of the controversy, Mayor Duterte-Carpio announced on Tuesday that she fired Tupas last Sunday when the latter told her of the incident and expressed her resignation.
Duterte-Carpio further said “The details of the raid are known only to the PDEA officers in Davao de Oro and Ms. Tupas.”
Asked for her reaction on the mayor’s statement, Lovitos said she cannot decipher the mayor’s words that stated that Tupas “was involved” in the drug raid.
“(I cannot decipher)… actually I will take it as it is, and of course Ms. Tupas has her statement on the incident which she issued earlier, I cannot comment on that,” Lovitos said.
Lovitos confirmed that Tupas will be part of their investigation but did not answer queries if Tupas will be considered a witness or part of the suspects on that drug raid.
The drug raid netted party drugs worth P1.5 million and controversy that a close aide to the local Dutertes was involved. Netizens and journalists said this raises questions on the Duterte’s campaign on illegal drugs that is the cornerstone of their administration.
But Lovitos said illegal drug operations continue and Davao being the center of economy in Mindanao is a target of these groups which they have been monitoring.
Lovitos also mentioned that another big operation in February this year intercepted illegal drugs in a parcel shipped from Germany that contained 494 ecstasy tablets worth P839,800.