THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Northern Mindanao plans to elevate the drug-related case of Johaira “Marimar” Macabuat, the alleged Mindanao "drug queen" and several others to the Supreme Court.
PDEA-Northern Mindanao Director Wilkins Villanueva said on Thursday, September 27, they will file a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court (SC) so it could act on Macabuat’s case, who was released together with her husband and several others last September after the court found the search inside her house in July 2016 illegal.
A certiorari is a writ or order by which a higher court reviews a decision of a lower court.
“That (petition for certiorari) is our strategy,” the PDEA executive said.
He said PDEA-Northern Mindanao will assail the judge’s decision and bring it to the Supreme Court adding “they will not rest until justice is served.”
Villanueva said the judge’s decision has put the PDEA-Northern Mindanao’s reputation on the line.
He has questioned the dismissal of Macabuat, allegedly one of the biggest drug dealers in Mindanao, who was cleared on drug-related charges along with nine others.
Also released from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology custody were Macabuat’s husband Suharto, Sandato Santican, Noraisa Mapandi, Mark Gerald Sindac, Moamar Taher, Mariano Dagandara, Manot Dutoan, Hezam Tambidan, and Kate Abinal.
Macabuat was tagged by the PDEA as the “Drug Queen of the South” and allegedly the leader of a drug group which supplied illegal drugs in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Caraga, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and in Metro Manila.
The dismissal of said personalities was ordered by Judge Joeffre Acebido of the Regional Trial Court Branch 41 here for the drug charges and illegal possession of firearms.
The decision of the case came out on Friday and was released to the media early this week.
In his order, the judge said the PDEA-Northern Mindanao had planted evidence against the suspects during the raid inside the Macabuats’ residence in Barangay Kauswagan, this city, on July 23, 2016.
Macabuat was the former mayor of Maguing, Lanao del Sur, while her husband was a major in the Philippine Army.
Villanueva said it is “unfortunate” that Acebido “swallowed the testimonies of the defense hook, line and sinker” claiming that the magistrate totally disregarded the evidence presented by the prosecution.
In his 25-page decision, Acebido justified the dismissal saying the “validity of the search is not gauged by its yield but also by the manner in which it is conducted.”
READ: 'Drug queen' acquittal surprises PDEA
He added: “the prosecution, likewise, failed to prove possession of the accused of the items listed in the information in all these cases at the time of the arrest.”
Also, Acebido said that the PDEA-Northern Mindanao agents carried out the raid prior to the arrival of barangay officials and media representatives.
The judge said he also questioned the confiscation of the alleged illegal substance the operatives found inside the Macabuats’ residence, saying “part of the controversy in these cases is not only centered on the illegality of the implementation of the search warrants but also on the claim on the accused that the dangerous drugs and paraphernalia allegedly seized were planted.”
Regional Prosecutor Merlyn Uy, for her part, said Acebido’s decision has served as a “wake-up call for the PDEA” on following protocols in serving search warrants.
READ: PDEA’s invalid search, seizure lead to Marimar’s acquittal
“This is a reminder to our law enforcers that even if armed with a search warrant, they have to comply on the rules of implementing warrants,” Uy said.