THE Office of the President has the authority to automatically review all decisions and resolutions involving the dismissal of illegal drug cases, including the controversial Alabang Boys controversy.
This after the Court of Appeals (CA) declared as valid and legal the automatic review that was undertaken by the Office of the President over the 2009 resolution of the Department of Justice on the so-called “Alabang boys” who were eventually absolved of illegal drug charges due to a technicality.
In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the CA’s Eighth Division dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by suspect Richard Brodett for being moot and academic.
The CA ruling said the President’s action was legal as it was made “by virtue of Administrative Order Nos. 252 and 253, which were validly issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pursuant to Section 17, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.”
Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon both concurred with Tijam’s ruling.
The case caught public attention after government prosecutors were accused of bribery charges, and led to several congressional hearings.
Then President Arroyo directly ordered an automatic review of the case after a fact-finding probe was made.
Arroyo subsequently overturned the ruling that led to the filing of the cases in court against the three suspects—Brodett, Jorge Joseph and Richard Tecson.
While the case is pending before the court, Brodett sought redress before the appeals court alleging that the Office of the President has no power to review a case that has been already dismissed by the DOJ.
However, in its decision, the CA said that “our Constitution expressly granted the President the control power over the executive department.”
The CA decision said, “As the chief executive, the president represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department.
“Hence, AO Nos. 252 and 253 were validly issued by President Arroyo to determine the truthfulness of the alleged bribery committed by her subordinates and to ensure that the laws they sought to implement were faithfully executed,” it added.
Guerrero found serious lapses by the arresting agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the custody of the illegal drugs seized from the accused.
According to Guerrero, “the link in the custody of the drug evidence” as required by Section 21 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, “was broken.”
The three young men were arrested in a buy-bust operation by the PDEA in the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City on Sept. 19, 2008 for allegedly selling 60 pieces of Ecstacy tablets worth P750 each to an agent.
Another “Alabang boys” member—Tecson—is still behind bars for a drug case that is yet to be resolved by a Quezon City court.