Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA) Director Ismael Aguon

Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA) Director Ismael Aguon dispelled allegations that their office had been turning a blind eye on the alleged illegal drug activities of a Palauan recently arrested in Manila for possession of suspected meth just because he was providing them information in some of their drug investigations.

In an interview with the media on Tuesday, April 23, Aguon confirmed that Mike Taman, who was arrested by Philippine operatives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila for possession of suspected meth, indeed worked with them in some investigations in the past but he was quick to add that ignoring illicit activities in exchange for information is not how they operate.

“That is totally untrue. Most of the people that assist us and give us information on drug-related activities are usually involved themselves. And I’m goingto tell you that we screened every information that we get because this is a deadly game that they play,” Aguon said, responding to the media’s question regarding the veracity of the allegations.

Aguon added that those who are engaged in illegal drug trade had been trying to eliminate each other to get ahead of their competition but he added that their office is trying to put a stop on the illegal activities.

“We need to conduct the investigation and the only way is to make connections with them but as far as turning a blind eye, that has never been the way that we do things,” Aguon said.

Aguon even said that if Taman had not been arrested in the Philippines, chances are he will be caught here.

“The most reliable information that we get in our investigations are from people that are involved. We do not hope for it but most of the time, they developed from being users to becoming traffickers,” Aguon said.

In our previous report, it was found that Taman had been identified as a “confidential informant”for the former anti-narcotics body called the Belau Drug Enforcement Task Force(BDETF) in the case Arnold Buck vs Republic of Palau and was said to be used for “controlled buys” by the task force.

Aguon, however, refused to use the term “informant” to refer to Taman, saying that the word is “very loaded”.

“In interest and in accordance with my ethics – the professional ethics that we worked by and the safety of the people that worked with us in investigations now and in the future, I’m not going to use that [word] to describe Mr. Taman,” he said.

Aguon revealed that they did not have personal contact with Taman after his arrest in the Philippines but they had been communicating with the authorities there surrounding on-going investigations.

Meanwhile, the chief of staff of the office of the vice president,Earnest Ongidobel, said in the same interview that the family of Taman here had approached their office to ask for assistance and was referred to the Ministry of State. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)