Department of Education

Prosecutor clears DepEd worker nabbed in ‘buy-bust’

Brynch Bonachita
Prosecutor clears DepEd worker nabbed in ‘buy-bust’
Provincial Prosecutor Edna Pitao-Honor dismisses the complaint against Maria Umpacan and her husband Rodolfo for lack of probable cause, citing loopholes and inconsistencies in the operation conducted by authorities

TACLOBAN, Philippines – The Biliran Provincial Prosecutor’s Office junked the criminal complaints against Department of Education (DepEd) employee Maria Umpacan, who was nabbed in what authorities claimed was a buy-bust operation last January 31.

In a 17-page joint resolution obtained by Rappler on Friday, March 11, Provincial Prosecutor Edna Pitao-Honor dismissed the complaint against Umpacan and her husband Rodolfo for lack of probable cause, citing loopholes and inconsistencies in the operation conducted by authorities.

Umpacan, who works as an administrative assistant at DepEd, was released from detention Friday. Meanwhile, her husband eluded arrest during the supposed buy-bust.

The respondents were accused of possessing and selling illegal drugs under Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Personnel from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Biliran and Kawayan Municipal Police arrested Umpacan at her residence during a “buy-bust operation” at Barangay Masagaosao, Kawayan, Biliran.

Authorities said they confiscated two sachets of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) weighing 0.0846 gram, with an estimated market value of Php575.

But Honor said the criminal complaints against the respondents were “founded on a quicksand and its foundation crumbles even at this early stage of the proceeding and, thus, cannot take off to proceed to the filing of information in the proper court.”

She found that Umpacan “had no participation whatsoever in the alleged buy-bust operation and the allegation that it was her who turned over the shabu and then finally received the money from Rodolfo Umpacan cannot be given probative value.”

“Corollary to that, as the loopholes, lacunae and inconsistencies had become glaring, it had also put the entire operation and criminal charge against Rodolfo Umpacan questionable,” the prosecutor added.

In handing out her decision, Honor cited the legal principle “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” (false in one thing, false in everything), which indicates that a witness who willfully falsifies one matter is not credible on any matter.

Earlier, Umpacan’s arrest made rounds on social media as Facebook users demanded justice for the DepEd employee. – Rappler.com

Brynch Bonachita is a Visayas-based journalist and a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.