The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday announced that 50 police officials have been charged with graft and other criminal cases in connection with the alleged cover-up bid in the P6.7-billion drug bust in October last year.
“Last Friday, the National Police Commission and the Philippine National Police (PNP) filed the criminal cases with the Office of the Ombudsman or what we call MOLEO (Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices) against 50 respondents,” said DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.
The respondents were charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act as amended; Revised Penal Code, in particular, Article 171 on falsification, Article 183 on perjury, Article 184 on false testimony and Article 217 for malversation of public property; and Presidential Decree No. 1829 or obstruction of justice.
Abalos, who also chairs the Napolcom, explained that the filing of the cases stemmed from the investigation by the Commisision and the PNP’s Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) on the 990-kilograms shabu haul worth P6.7 billion confiscated in Manila last year.
Last April, Abalos made public a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showing police officers allegedly attempting to pilfer 42 kilograms of the seized 990 kilograms of shabu.
“Of these 50 respondents, 48 appeared on the CCTV video and an additional two officers have been charged on the basis of conspiracy,” he said.
Two of the 50 respondents were generals: Lt. Gen. Benjamin Santos Jr. and Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo, Abalos said.
The DILG chief said they are optimistic about the results of the case, which aims to weed out the erring cops from the PNP and help clean the organization’s image.
“The Napolcom and the (PNP) SITG have gone through everything– the testimonies, the (pieces of) evidence, a lot of people witnessed what happened, and that’s what we’re going to take to the court,” he said.
Abalos also reported that on top of the criminal cases filed before the Ombudsman, administrative cases will also be lodged against the erring police officials.
Among the administrative cases that would be filed are grave misconduct and grave neglect of duty—both of which are punishable with dismissal from the service and forfeiture of benefits.
Last October, anti-narcotics agents reportedly seized more than 990 kilos of shabu worth about P6.7 billion in Tondo, Manila from a suspected drug pusher, which also resulted in the arrest of a police officer. The police officer was identified as MSgt. Rodolfo Mayo, a member of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group.
Also arrested during the raid on the WPD Lending office owned by Mayo was his accomplice identified as Ney Saligumba Atadero.
Atadero later told investigators that more illegal drugs were stored at a lending company office in Sta. Cruz, also in Manila.
The team came up with a follow up operation and discovered that another police officer assigned to the PNP Drug Enforcement Group’s Special Operations Unit in the National Capital Region was also involved.
Months later, Abalos called for the courtesy resignation of full colonels and generals as part of what he called “cleansing the ranks and getting rid of “bad eggs” within the PNP.”
Abalos initiated the PNP “house cleansing” amid reports of the return of so-called “ninja cops” involved in a money-making scheme through “resale of confiscated illegal drugs.”
The DILG chief said there was a need to take a radical approach versus illegal drugs by cleansing the PNP because it is unfair to the majority of the police officers who were putting their lives on the line to combat illegal drugs, while some of their bosses in the organization maintained links with the drug syndicates.
— Joel E. Zurbano
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