DILG Abalos has public support vs PNP ninja cops
The swirling events among the Department of Interior and Local government (DILG), the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) over the much-publicized P6.7 billion shabu raid in Tondo on October 8 last year that turned into a web of police corruption, continue to swarm the headlines and coffee shop talk.
This started March 21, when PNP dismissed from service, the principal suspect Police Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo, the owner of the lending office where the illegal drugs were seized, for three count of grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a police office. This decision that took five months after the Tondo raid, irked Abalos, who then ordered on March 27, the creation of a NAPOLCOM fact finding body headed by is vice chairman and executive officer Alberto Bernardo, to monitor police anomalies and irregularities including Mayo’s case.
Being the SILG and at the same time ex-oficio chairperson of NAPOLCOM, Abalos has administrative and operational supervision over the PNP, saying “it is incumbent upon us to monitor and look into the progress of the investigation”. On April 10, Abalos revealed the massive attempt to coverup the arrest of Mayo. He also exposed the names of high ranking PNP officers in the October 8 CCTV footage and asked for their voluntary leaves of absences pending investigation or otherwise suspended. Abalos says evidence so far collected is enough to file complaints, but authorities continue to collect statements that may be completed next week.
After the Abalos press conference, what followed was the one-week self-imposed silence of the retiring PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr., who will be replaced next Wednesday, April 26.
After the usual Camp Crame press release denial of cover-ups during that lull, Brig. Gen Eliseo Cruz, director of the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management and head of Special investigation task group 990 (SITG 990) on April 13, released the results of his investigation. Forty-nine (49) police officers were found liable for the alleged cover-up of irregularities in connection with the seizure of 990 kilograms of crystal meth (“shabu”) worth P6.7 billion and the attempted pilfering of some of the confiscated drugs in October last year.
The highest-ranked official cited in the memo was PNP Drug Enforcement Group former director, Police Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo. The report also named two colonels, three lieutenant colonels, one major and five lieutenants, while the rest were non-commissioned officers: two chief master sergeants; two senior master sergeants; five master sergeants; three staff sergeants; four corporals; and 21 patrolmen and women.
Cruz also assured the public that the Special Investigation Task Group 990’s (SITG 990) investigation on the said irregularities will continue, stating that its recent findings only concentrated on the 42 kilos PDEG officers attempted to pilfer from the 990 kilos of shabu seized in 2022.” We are not closing the investigation and we welcome this as extension of our job as SITG, he stressed.
In a press conference yesterday, retiring PNP chief Azurin denied reports of an alleged PNP cover-up in the arrest of Master Sergeant Mayo. He said his silence was to give a chance for those accused to explain their side. Azurin insisted that the report of Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz is “an indication of his strong resolve to get to the bottom of these illegal drug activities, and that he is serious in unmasking the members of the syndicate-whether in government or crime group”. In that same conference, Azurin repeatedly cited the involvement of an arresting team captain, who if he allegedly cooperates in the probe, may lead to other PNP officers involved in the drug trade. He also pleaded to the next PNP leader to be tougher and levelheaded.
But again, these are all statements coming from PNP officials investigating their own kind while the whole nation awaits the reaction of their civilian supervisors, the DILG and the NAPOLCOM.
But in the analysis of all these, we should also look at another interesting side-issue coming from Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Barbers also House committee chairman on Dangerous Drugs who says the “October 8, 2022, shabu haul was a case of double cover-up and double recycling attempts by “police officers”. He believes Abalos was “blinded” if not “hoodwinked” by his subordinates from the PNP on what really transpired on the ground during the raid. “Abalos was present and led the October 10, 2022, press conference about the drug haul while he was still warming up his seat as new DILG chief”. “At the time, he was made to believe that Mayor was arrested in a hot pursuit operation by PNP-DEG agents at Quezon bridge, Quiapo for possession of 2 kilos of shabu” but based on the CCTV video footage, no such crime happened.”.
These narratives, my beloved countrymen, are sowing despair and perhaps anger over what has happened to our frontline defense against illegal drugs. The PNP probe itself admits the growing tentacles of its illegal drug corruption, from the higher ranks to the patrolmen. This was acknowledged even by the retiring PNP chief himself. How could these handful of men in uniform manipulate, control, supply or hoodwink our civilian officials on the real extent of drug trade?
It was a good thing that we have DILG secretary Benhur Abalos who leads in the people’s fight against “illegal drugs”. Since a year ago, he has launched the laudable BIDA- Buhay ay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan (Care for Life, No to Drugs) in every baranggay nationwide with the objective of reducing the demand for illegal drugs in every community.
How can this new administration make BIDA successful when some high ranking PNP officers are directly involved or in cahoots with criminal drug syndicates? When can the people see a truly reformed and professional PNP?
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