MANILA – The House of Representatives Committee on Dangerous Drugs on Wednesday released former Mexico, Pampanga mayor Teddy Tumang from detention in the spirit of the Christmas season.
During the committee inquiry into the seized or discovered PHP3.6 billion worth of drugs in the province of Pampanga, Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. made the motion to temporarily release Tumang until Congress resumes its session on Jan. 22, 2024, after its Christmas break.
“May I move that the committee temporarily release Mayor Tumang, who is my kabalen and kumpare (townmate and friend), so he could be with his family during the coming Christmas and New Year holidays,” Gonzales said.
He said Tumang’s furlough would also allow him to attend the wedding of one of his children this week and recover from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which he contracted while detained at the House premises.
“He should just isolate himself at home until he recovers,” Gonzales said.
“Let us thank Senior Deputy Speaker Gonzales for this gesture,” committee chair Ace Barbers said.
On Nov. 15, the House panel cited Tumang in contempt and ordered him detained at the Batasan complex for 30 days for disclosing information taken up in an executive session.
Section 7 of the House Rules states that “Testimony taken or evidence presented in an executive session, or any summary or excerpt thereof, or documents related thereto, in whole or in part, shall not be made public, unless authorized by a majority vote of the Members present, there being a quorum.”
Barbers said Tumang wrote him a letter, apologizing for disclosing information taken up in a closed-door session and requesting that his 30-day detention be reduced.
“He has already served 15 days in detention. We will take up his request for a reduced confinement period when he reports back on Jan. 22,” he said.
Barbers directed the National Bureau of Investigation to locate Willy Ong, the "main actor" in this PHP3.6 billion illegal drugs shipment and owner of the Empire 999 warehouse, where the drugs were discovered.
“This is your project. You have to hunt down this Willy Ong and bring him to this committee in the next hearing,” he said.
The National Bureau of Investigation's Task Force Against Illegal Drugs chief, Ross Jonathan Galicia, said the bureau has requested the Department of Foreign Affairs, Land Transportation Office, and other agencies for records on Ong, and that his office was still awaiting replies from these offices.
Galicia vowed to the committee that his task force would file charges against some unnamed persons of interest “before the end of this year." (PNA)