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Court of Appeals asked to release 'Alabang Boys'

January 6, 2009 6:08pm
MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals was asked Tuesday to release two members of the so-called "Alabang Boys" who are still being held by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) three months after their "arrest."

The petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus was filed before the court by the fathers of detained suspects Richard Brodett and Joseph Tecson.

The two were arrested by operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) last September 20, yesterday sought relief from the Court of Appeals for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus for their sons temporary liberty.

In the 10-page petition, the Brodett and Tecson families asked the CA to order the PDEA to show cause for continued detention of the suspects.

"It is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to set subjects (petitioners) at liberty upon the said writ of habeas corpus and order that they shall not be again imprisoned for the same offense unless by the lawful order or process of a court having jurisdiction of the cause or offense," the petition stated.

Named respondents in the suit were PDEA Director Gen. Dionisio Santiago, Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino and lawyer Alvaro Lazaro.

Brodett and Tecson, along with Jorge Jordana Joseph, are being held allegedly for drug peddling.

Brodett was arrested after a chase inside the posh Ayala Alabang subdivision in Muntinlupa along with Jorge Joseph.

Tecson was arrested in a separate operation in Araneta Center in Quezon City.

They were all charged for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165) and have been in detention since September.

Felisberto Verano, the lawyer for the two suspects, said that the PDEA should have immediately released the suspects after the Department of Justice ordered the dismissal of the drug charges against the "Alabang Boys."

As basis, he cited a resolution approved by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno which was dated December 2, 2008.

"It cannot further hold the subjects and deprive them of their liberty without any valid and just cause. The continuous detention of the subjects by PDEA is a glaring violation of the subjects well-enshrined rights in our Constitution," the families said in the petition.

Verano said that even the DOJ's Department Circular no. 46, which called for the automatic review of dismissed cases involving violation of RA 9165, did not expressly implied that the suspects should be detained pending automatic review of the case by the Secretary of Justice.

No charges yet

The petition also maintained that at present, there is no charge against Brodett and Tecson, therefore, PDEA has no reason to deprive them of their liberty.

"Applying the aforecited jurisprudence in this case, the department circular - which is silent on whether the subjects should be held in custody pending automatic review of DOJ - should not prevail over the right of the subjects to their liberty, which is enunciated under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution," said Verano in the petition.

He said the family of the suspects are entitled to the writ of habeas corpus considering that PDEA, being a government agency, continued to unlawfully detain Brodett, Tecson and Joseph.

In a talk with reporters at the CA, Verano also admitted drafting the order for Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez's signature on December 23.

Verano said that he has talked early on with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to act on the release of the suspects, citing the December 2 resolution of the prosecutors.

However, Gonzalez merely said that he will first study the case.

The lawyer said that this statement from the DOJ chief gave him hope and it was this that prompted him to prepare the draft order for the latter's signature.

From his old files, Verano said he got a sample of the department's letterhead.

When his request with Gonzalez was unacted upon, Verano said that he turned to Blancaflor for help.

Verano admitted that preparing a draft order for the Secretary's signature was not the normal procedure but he justified this, saying that his clients were getting desperate as Christmas neared.

"I asked if they could release the boys even temporarily, in the spirit of Christmas. I pleaded for his being a Christian," he said.

The lawyer said that he realized later that Gonzalez was not likely to grant his request, especially after the news of the dismissal of the drug charges and the alleged bribery broke out.

Jo Tecson?

For his part, Tecson's father, Joselito, belied allegations that he called up Marcelino and supposedly offered him "tatlong manok," or P3 million, for the release of his son.

"I never called him up. Hindi ko naiintindihan ang tatlong manok. Hindi ko siya kilala, and I never offered them money," he said, adding that PDEA should be more responsible with their accusations. - GMANews.TV
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