Bukidnon VG Zubiri warns fiscal not to hang around with suspected drug pushers

Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri, Jr.

By Cha Monforte, Rural Urban News

Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri, Jr. warned a fiscal who was questioned for allegedly releasing two suspected drug pushers within the 36-hour period from their arrest “not to hang around in public with persons suspected to be drug pushers, or I’ll suspect you.”

The vice governor dropped these remarks, apparently a side outburst, while presiding the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s regular session last Wednesday where Valencia City Prosecutor John Magdaraog and agents of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-10 tangled over whether the release of a suspected drug pusher Jaime Olorvida and his companion Sherwin Rivera was within or beyond the 36-hour reglamentary period to make inquest proceeding.

The two suspects were arrested by PDEA agents last September 12 in a buy-bust operation at Purok 7, Hindangon, Valencia City. Two days after they were released by the chief of police of Valencia City following an order from the City Prosecutor’s Office.

The Bukidnon SP invited the City Prosecutor Magdaraog based on the complaint letter of PDEA-10 letter lodged earlier to the SP.

For his part, City Prosecutor Magdaraog wondered why the PDEA haled him in the SP when they had already complained against him and Associate Prosecution Attorney II Rainier Eusebio Aquino before the Regional State Prosecutor.

“It seems the PDEA is engaging in forum shopping,” he said in an interview.

Magdaraog said though that while he agreed with the governor’s advice, he just does not know at all the background of the people whom he talks to in public, adding that “I’m still new in Valencia City”. He became the city prosecutor in 2009.   

Aquino, in his resolution dated September 14, 2012 and approved by Magdaraog, said the complaint filed against the two suspects “was filed beyond the reglamentary period to conduct inquest proceedings.”   

Vice Gov. Zubiri said during the privilege hour of the session when parliamentary rules were suspended that the provincial sanggunian was not fact-finding, adding that, “we are not a court, we just want to know based on PDEA’s complaint to the fiscal.”

The vice governor responded to the warning raised by Board Member Roland Deticio that they might be violating the rule of sub judice as Magdaraog is already facing a complaint filed by the PDEA-10 before the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor.

Deticio raised as PDEA-10 agent Randy Pulmano hurled charges against the prosecutor and his office on the floor.

Agent Pulmano strongly expressed dismay over the prosecutor’s resolution dismissing the PDEA’s inquest bid citing that Magdaraog erred in counting the 36 hours commencing at the time of the suspects’ arrest.  Pulmano said that Olorvida was No. 3 in Bukidnon in PDEA’s classified national information system on suspected drug pushers.  

Responding to Deticio, Vice Gov. Zubiri said that there was nothing in violation saying that the SP just wanted to listen to both sides.

He added they could not judge the case and it would be up to the court to decide the contended issue on 36-hour period.

He said that the illegal drug has become “the biggest menace” in the province, and for this “God willing when I’ll again become the governor, I’ll work on this.”

The vice governor warned drug pushers to stop their trade as an anti-illegal drug movement has been mobilized to stump out the problem “that is destroying our children.”

The vice governor added that besides illegal drugs his province is also reeling from the illegal gambling, which residents said was based on the legal Lotto’s swertres, last-three digit results.

Zubiri, father of former Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, is virtually unopposed gubernatorial bet for next year given his token and nuisance independent rivals. He slid down as vice governor in 2010 polls after completing his three terms as governor, swapping posts with former Vice Governor Alex Calingasan. The two swapped posts again for the next year’s polls, with Calingasan also facing easily beatable independent rivals.- Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte

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