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5 PDEA agents get jail terms for indirect contempt of court

A Negros Oriental Regional Trial Court judge has found five agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency guilty of indirect contempt of court in connection with an alleged fake buy-bust operation in Barangay Looc, Dumaguete City.

Negros Oriental Branch 34 Judge Amelia Lourdes Mendoza sentenced PDEA agents Nelson Muchuelas, May Ann Carmelo, Jose Anthony Juanites, Cheryl Mae Villaver and Realyn Pinpin to six months imprisonment at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Dumaguete City, and to pay fines of P30,000 each.

The court has also issued warrants of arrest for the five.

However, since the judgment for indirect contempt is subject to review, the judge fixed the bond to stay execution of judgment at P200,000 each with the condition that they abide by the judgment if their appeal is decided against them.

The court concluded that the PDEA agents arrested five drug suspects in separate places, and not in a single buy-bust operation on June 28, 2020.

The drug charges against the five were dismissed in October.

“The court wants to emphasize that the basis for the indirect contempt charges arises from the fact that the official narrative of the arrests as contained in the affidavits, photographs and other attachments to the complaint has been unmasked as false and fake,” the judge said.

The case filed by the PDEA agents against the accused is based on a big lie that the court finds offensive and indicative of their contempt for the rule of law, she said.

The indirect contempt proceedings resulted from the evidence presented by the accused drug suspects in support of their motion to quash information that shows their respective arrests were effected contrary to the official narrative given by the arresting officers, the judge said.

“In finding respondents guilty of indirect contempt, the court is of the view that the acted willfully and deliberately to cause injustice to the accused and to degrade the administration of justice, which is abhorrent to the dignity and authority of this court,” she added.*

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