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P200T bail recommended for ex-vice governor in drug case

First Posted 15:22:00 05/06/2008

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CEBU CITY, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended that former vice governor John Gregory ?John-John? Osmea pay bail of P200,000 for charges of protecting people involved in the importation of controlled substances.

On the other hand, Mike Cummings and Dirk Hultz, the consignees of a shipment of 1,500 kilograms of pseudoephedrine that the government intercepted in 2004, are not entitled to bail for their case of importing controlled substances.

In its case information, the DOJ said Osmea willfully used his position as vice governor of the Province of Cebu in 2004 to protect people involved in the drug shipment.

The cases against the three are set to be raffled to a court on Monday.

Edgar Gica, legal counsel of Osmea, said he would file a motion for the suspension of the issuance of an arrest warrant against his client, as well as a petition for review of the case.

Gica said there were procedural lapses in the filing of the case against Osmea, specifically the failure of the DOJ to give him or Osmea a copy of the resolution of the investigative panel finding probable cause to charge the former vice governor.

The lawyer also questioned how the panel came to its conclusion against Osmea.

?There?s no single act committed by John-John that he protected the two (Cummings and Hultz),? he said.

Osmea has been made aware of the case through his father, former senator John Henry ?Sonny? Osmea.

?He (John-John) is willing to face everything to prove that he is innocent,? Gica said.

The lawyer said Osmea?s defense would be the same as the counter-affidavit he provided in 2004, which denied any involvement in the importation of pseudoephedrine, a controlled substance due to its role in the manufacture of the illegal drug shabu.

Osmea, in the counter-affidavit, also denied knowing or having met with George Michael Kessel or a certain ?Soria? who were allegedly members of an Australian drug syndicate.

In the complaint filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in 2004, agents said Osmea met Kessel and Soria in a hotel where they talked for around two hours.

Later, Osmea then called up then PDEA Central Visayas director Gaudencio Pagaling asking him to release the pseudoephedrine shipment, the PDEA said.

Senior Superintendent Primo Golingay, then director of compliance service of PDEA, also executed an affidavit saying Osmea met him and asked him for assistance, promising generous monetary consideration in exchange for releasing the shipment, which came from China and was bound for Australia via Cebu courtesy of Cummings and Hultz.

According to the DOJ, Cummings and Hultz did not submit their counter-affidavits despite the ample time given to them.

State prosecutors dismissed charges against other respondents, who included three of staff members of the Office of the Vice Governor during Osmea?s term: Jobert Cuesta, Maria Rowena Roldan, and Rorela Villegas.

Other respondents who were dropped from the case were Leah Banal, Malou Milagros Legaspi, Michael Emilio Sanchez, Alexander Michael Castro, and Susan Bernardo.

The panel of prosecutors was headed by Taguig City Prosecutor Archmides Manabat. The panel's decision was approved by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno.

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