Alfred Dalizon

Prosecuting Canadian drug trafficker a major challenge for PNP

May 18, 2024 Alfred P. Dalizon 159 views

I’M referring to the ongoing effort of the Philippine National Police to ensure the successful prosecution of a Canadian national arrested for his alleged involvement in the foiled smuggling of around 1.4 tons of shabu worth P9.68 billion in Alitagtag, Batangas last April 15.

The PNP needs the best lawyers it can have to prosecute Thomas Gordon O’Quinn alias “James Toby Marti” amid two prosecution debacles it suffered when it comes to two sensational cases this year: 1st is the case of a murdered police captain in Maguindanao del Norte and the 2nd involving the case filed against a former police officer in connection with the disappearance of a beauty queen in Batangas province.

In the case of slain Police Captain Roland Moralde, the Maguindanao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office ‘literally dismissed’ the case filed against the latter’s killers and even ordered two policemen-accused to be released from the Parang Municipal Police Station last May 7.

The development prompted DILG chief Benhur Abalos and PNP chief, General Rommel Marbil to direct the regional police force to thoroughly study the case and see to it that all legal remedies will be undertaken to bring justice to the slain police captain.

Right now, it seems to me that on orders of Gen. Marbil, only PNP spokesperson and lawyer-Colonel Jean Fajardo is doing the real talking regarding the matter with the PRO-BAR really silent on the matter in which the local prosecutors ordered the release of the two accused saying that the complaint-affidavit does not contain necessary evidence to prove the essential elements of murder.

What happened to the assurance by the DILG and the Department of Justice that they will be partnering to ensure that solid cases will be filed by the police force to ensure the successful prosecution of criminal offenders including law enforcement officers?

Now that they have been released, the two accused policemen apparently have gone into hiding and have been placed on AWOL status. Having relatives in the region would also make their lives much easier while in hiding even as PRO-BAR had submitted its position paper to answer the matters raised by the prosecutor’s office and sought the transfer of the case to Manila.

Then there is the case of beauty queen Catherine Camilon who has been missing since October 2023 and is presumed dead already. The Batangas City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed against former police officer Allan de Castro saying evidence submitted including photos of the two kissing are insufficient to prove a conspiracy between the police officer and a co-accused.

The prosecutor’s office also ‘gave minimal or no credence’ to the sponge covered with blood found inside a red Honda CRV recovered in the wake of the investigation into the case saying ‘it is contrary to human experience for a criminal to leave a piece of evidence to a vehicle that has been used for the commission of crime.’

These two celebrated cases involving policemen which ended up being ‘dismissed’ by the prosecutor’s office will really pose a major challenge to the PNP when it comes to prosecuting the arrested Canadian national.

The Canadian tagged as an international drug trafficker accused of involvement in the foiled effort to transport the P9.6 billion worth of shabu in Alitagtag, Batangas last April 15 has been arrested by PNP agents in an operation in Tagaytay City this week.

Thomas Gordon O’Quinn was found to be using the aliases ‘James Toby Martin, Robert Wagner, Steve Wilson, Ryan Brooke, Steve McDonald and Jay Macallan’ when apprehended inside the Nurture Spa and Wellness in Barangay Maitim, Tagaytay City around 9 p.m. Thursday.

Agents from the Regional Intelligence Division of the National Capital Region Police Office under Major Gen. Tateng Nartatez, the Police Regional Office 4-A and the Tagaytay City Police Station under Brigadier Gen. Kenneth Lucas and the Fugitive Search Unit of the Bureau of Immigration arrested the foreigner on the strength of an Interpol Red Notice for conspiracy to possess, export and distribute illegal substances into the United States.

The Canadian was likewise charged with illegal possession of prohibited drugs under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 and violation of Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code or using fictitious name and concealing true name before the Department of Justice on Friday.

The charges were filed after the suspect yielded multiple types of narcotics including several plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, sophisticated electronic devices and numerous identification documents under various aliases, indicating his efforts to elude detection, said Maj. Gen. Nartatez.

Right now, a major challenge facing the PNP is how to prove the real connection of the Canadian to the multi-billion drug smuggling try. Although he has been implicated in the Alitagtag drug haul by Amazon Michael Zarate, the driver of the van that yielded the P9.68 billion worth of shabu, police have to present major pieces of solid evidence that would really convince the prosecutor’s office that there is enough probable cause to try the accused in court.

Remember that international drug traffickers are well-off and could have the local connections that would enable them to hire the best lawyers that will defend them in court, of course for huge amount of money.

Just look at the case of arrested POGO ring financiers and operators involved in different multi-billion scams in the country who are being defended by probably the same group of lawyers who are making life much harder for our law enforcement agencies with the way they are making all kinds of reasoning to defend their clients.