January 06, 2009

In case you missed it...

(Photo from the club's web site)

...Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director-General Dionisio Santiago testified in the House hearing on the "Alabang Boys" drug-bust/bribery case this afternoon that the gang also supplies drugs to that infamous Embassy Club at The Fort in Taguig. Read the story here

I suppose the club owners would be grateful for this new round of free publicity.

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Btw, Director General Santiago made quite an impression on me, as I watched him shoot off his mouth on what was wrong in the government's anti-drug program. He sounded like a long-suffering civil servant just trying to do right by his job and the public that he serves.

He spoke of how the Philippines' image in the international arena with regards to its fight against drug syndicates has been tarnished by the government's inability to make a drug conviction stick. He said there were many times that DOJ prosecutors dismissed drug charges against certain individuals. He also ranted about how the public has lost faith in the PDEA and other government agencies because of the belief that anyone in government could be bribed. (Read ABS-CBN News online's story on other dismissed high-profile drug cases here.)

(Santiago being sworn in as PDEA head)

This is the first time I've seen DG Santiago on TV so I don't really know much about him. I don't know if my perception of him is correct, because after googling him, I found out that graft charges had been filed against him in 2005, for depositing an P8-million check intended to renovate the AFP pool area. I don't know what happened to the said case. (If you go to the Ombudsman's web site, all you will read are paeans to its chief Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, as well as her speeches. In the interest of good governance and transparency, shouldn't the web site have a search feature where any citizen can log on and find out the status of cases filed at the agency? Then again, we may be asking too much considering the poor performance of Gutierrez and et al.)

According to the literature on the web, Santiago is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1970 and as a general, once held the post of AFP chief. I hope my reading of the guy is not wrong, kasi sayang naman, we have very few trustworthy government officials under this administration.

Btw this is the same DG Santiago who not too long ago, spoke about the emergence of narcopolitics in the runup to the 2010 elections.

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Anyhoo, I didn't watch the entire Congressional hearing. I found the congressmen – except for one or two – quite distatesful. Most of them didn't listen to the testimony of those being grilled, while the rest were content on just shoving spoonfuls of food into their mouths and munch away. (Manong, 'di ka pa ba nagsawa sa kainan nung Pasko?) How very undignified. Ick.

While I don't relish watching the Senate hearings on TV either, I noticed that the Upper Chamber's proceedings appear more respectable and organized. And the senators, well, except for one or two as well, appear more decent and sane. (But yes, the Senators too eat while their hearings are ongoing although they appear less conspicuous about it. I recall last year's hearings on the ZTE-NBN controversy and remember that the only one who was annoying was one Senate staff, a chubby girl usually seated at the back of the presiding Senator. She usually chomps away at her lunch in plain view of the TV cameras. Brrr.)

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