Team Agila strikes back         

By Artchil B. Fernandez

How will Team Agila and the Dutertes respond to the “good cop, bad cop” charade of the First Couple? This was the question raised by this space last week.

The response is swift and immediate. Team Agila strikes back promptly. If the vlogger interview of Liza Araneta Marcos (LAM) was fiercely personal, the response of Team Agila is equally personal and damaging, reinforcing, and strengthening their original charge on Bongbong Marcos (BBM).

Du30 hatchetman in the Senate, Bato de la Rosa suddenly renewed the Senate investigation on the leaked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) issued documents, Authority to Operate and a Pre-Operation Report dated March 11, 2012 circulating in cyberspace. They surfaced last April 2, 2024.

These documents were posted online by former Marcos loyalist-turned-harsh critic Maharlika in her vlog. BBM was one of the targets in the pre-operation reports along unnamed male and female companions. The reports said that the target personalities were “frequently using illegal drugs” inside a condominium unit in Makati City.

When these documents came to light, PDEA immediately said they are fakes. “PDEA ran a check through its Plans and Operations Reports Management Information System or PORMIS and found that no such operation was logged on said date,” the agency said. PDEA claimed the documents could be the work of artificial intelligence (AI). “In an age where Artificial Intelligence can generate realistic fake videos, spurious documents and fantastic claims at having ‘insider information’, the public is cautioned to be more careful in believing such fake news,” PDEA added.

The issue faded into public consciousness after it exploded. Then, this week, right after the controversial interview of LAM Bato de la Rosa resumed the Senate hearing on the PDEA documents. Is it a matter of coincidence that these documents deal with the allegations of BBM’s use of illegal drugs? Why the sudden Senate interest on the issue with a certified Du30 fanatic at the helm of the investigation?

This week’s Senate hearing placed Team Tigre on the defensive while Team Agila on the offensive.

Civil Service Commission (CSC) Director IV Atty. Alma Flores-Foronda in the Senate hearing cautioned that those who leaked the PDEA documents on BBM’s purported use of illegal drugs can face sanctions. “The divulging of confidential information is being penalized by two laws. We have Republic Act 6713, under Section 7, which is the code of conduct and ethical standards for government officials and employees, and also under the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, Section 3,” Foronda warned. The leaked PDEA documents linked BBM and actress Maricel Soriano to illegal drugs.

CSC’s warning is a defensive move of Team Tigre. As a government agency, CSC has no choice but to shield BBM who is the chief of the executive department. PDEA is also an agency under the executive hence its denial of the authenticity of the leaked documents. Team Agila however is not deterred. With renewed vigor, it pushed the claim that the leaked PDEA documents are genuine. Former PDEA investigation agent Jonathan Morales insists during in this week’s Senate hearing that the documents are authentic having signed them.

But it was Bato de la Rosa who carried the torch for Team Agila’s counterattack. The leaked PDEA documents linking BBM to use of illegal drugs is not fabricated de la Rosa declared. “I can say that this paper exists because it is clear, based on the nature of the paper, that it is not AI-generated. It’s not fabricated,” he asserted. “It is clear that it is from a big…folder where it was only removed from a fastener. Because of the way it was photographed and photocopied, you’ll see the punch holes where the fastener was inserted.”

Bato de la Rosa also vouched Morales’ story. “I saw that he was not hiding anything. He was very straightforward with what he was saying, and he presented documents. He also admitted that he signed the documents, and it wasn’t denied by PDEA that he was a member of the agency at that time. He was only removed later on.”

On BBM’s alleged connection to drug use, de la Rosa has this to say. “If your name is written there, that means you are a subject for validation. Pre-operation, because when you are subject to pre-operation, it means there is information about you using drugs. So, the pre-operation report is done before conducting the operation.”

Sudden resurrection of BBM’s alleged use of illegal drugs in the Senate has the fingerprints of Team Agila. The macho Dutertes in their rallies had been hammering on the theme. What provoked the controversial LAM interview was Du30 publicly calling BBM “bangag” (stoned). Team Agila through Bato de la Rosa is revisiting the issue and amplifying it using the Senate as platform. The issue of BBM’s alleged use of illegal drugs is the overarching narrative of Team Agila, aware that this is the issue that rankles and agitates Team Tigre the most.

Certifying the leaked documents claiming that BBM is into illegal drugs and guaranteeing its authenticity is Team Agila’s way of solidifying and hardening its core issue against Team Tigre. The issue is highly personal and gets into the guts of the Marcoses.

The tit-for-tat between Team Agila and Team Tigre is becoming more and more interesting. Things will grow more exciting as the 2025 election nears.

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