By Wilnard Bacelonia

CLUELESS. Former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa (center) denies blocking a supposed 2012 Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency surveillance operation against then senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and actress Maricel Soriano during a Senate hearing on Monday (May 20, 2024). Ochoa also denied knowledge of any information, or seeing PDEA documents about the alleged operations. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – Former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa on Monday denied the claim of former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent Jonathan Morales that he ordered the halt of an alleged surveillance operation against then-senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and actress Maricel Soriano in 2012.

Appearing before the fourth hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on the so-called “PDEA Leaks,” Ochoa said he does not know former PDEA deputy director general Carlos Gadapan, whom he supposedly ordered to discontinue with the operation.

“As I mentioned earlier, I don’t even know him and I don’t recall of any occasion that we have met or even talked. So, I completely deny that I have made those instructions as alleged,” Ochoa said, answering the question of panel chair Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

Ochoa also denied knowledge about or having seen the alleged PDEA documents.

When asked by Senator Jinggoy Estrada if he personally knows Morales, Ochoa answered in the negative.

“I have absolutely no idea,” he continued when asked by Estrada if he has any idea of what Morales’ motive might be.

The former executive secretary was not able to attend the previous hearings because of prior commitments and testing positive in Covid-19.

In his opening statement, Estrada noted that after three extensive hearings of the panel, the veracity of the alleged PDEA documents has yet to be established.

Wala ni isa sa mga tumestigo sa komiteng ito ang nakapag-corroborate sa testimonya ni Ginoong Morales. Bagkus, pinasinungalingan pang mga taga-PDEA mismo ang kwento nya. At hanggang ngayon, matapos ang tatlong public hearings, ang dokumentong sinasabi ni Morales na siya mismo ang gumawa ay hindi niya ma-ipakita (None of those who testified before this committee were able to corroborate the testimony of Mr. Morales. On the contrary, PDEA officials themselves have dismissed his stories. And until now, after three public hearings, the documents that Morales said he made himself were never shown),” Estrada said.

Estrada also recalled the testimonies made by former PDEA chiefs questioning Morales’ credibility.

One of them was former PDEA director general Dionisio Santiago who called Morales an “STL” (story telling liar). (PNA)