I was not able to watch the entire Senate hearing on “ninja cops”, or policemen who recycle confiscated drugs. It was actually hard to watch because it turned into a mud slinging competition between Baguio City Mayor and former CIDG head Benjamin Magalong and PNP Chief, and former Pampanga Provincial Police Director, Oscar Albayalde but from what I was able to watch and what I was able to read in the news about it, I do have some important questions.
According to Mayor Magalong, when the CIDG conducted its own investigation on the November 29, 2013 anti-drugs operation of the intelligence officers of the Pampanga Provincial Police Office, they found out that the raiding team actually confiscated 200 kilos of shabu but only reported 38 kilos. In other words, Mayor Magalong was saying that the policemen involved STOLE over 160 kilos of shabu and apparently “recycled” the stolen shabu because Mayor Magalong was linking it to the supposed drop in the price of shabu in Pampanga at that time.
Thereafter, the discussion centered on why the original administrative sanction of dismissal against the involved police officers was downgraded to demotion and why the original order of dismissal was not implemented by the Provincial Directors that followed, including now PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino.
From my understanding of the answers given, though sometimes confusing and conflicting, the dismissal was apparently the subject of a motion for reconsideration filed by the respondents and it was, I think, this motion for reconsideration that was eventually acted upon resulting to the modification of the original penalty from dismissal to demotion.
I would have loved to see the actual evidence presented in this case to form an opinion as to the propriety of the modification but this is not the case but, as it is, the filing of a motion for reconsideration is indeed part of the process and, normally, it does result to the deferment of the implementation of any penalty that has not yet attained finality. Anyway, the case is subject to automatic review by the Department of Justice and, with Secretary Maynard Guevarra monitoring it, I’m optimistic that the resolution will be fair and justified. I personally know that Secretary Guevarra knows his law and is a very astute lawyer in his own right.
Going to my main point, my question while watching this part of the Senate hearing was, why were they only talking about the administrative charges against the policemen? Were there no criminal charges filed against them?
Simply put, if Mayor Magalong, as head of the CIDG at the time, had evidence to show that the raiding team essentially “pocketed”, if you could pocket 160 kilos of shabu, the bulk of the drugs found during the raid, then why were the charges limited to administrative cases?
I mean stealing 160 kilos of shabu amounted to Theft at the very least and, coupled with “recycling” or reselling these drugs, also grave violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. If the evidence was there, as per Mayor Magalong, then why did he not initiate the proper criminal charges against these supposedly erring police officers?
Moreover, Mayor Magalong also said that an investigation showed that the policemen involved released the suspect, a Chinese national named Johnson Lee, in exchange for P50 Million Pesos and that, instead another Chinese national, named Ding Wengkun was presented as the suspect.
Again, these are very serious allegations of graft and corruption, possibly plunder, against the police officers in addition to falsifying evidence and framing another person. If they really had the evidence to back this up, AGAIN, why were no criminal charges filed?
Repeatedly during what I was able to watch of the Senate hearing, mention was made of “reliable sources” and “information received” or “intelligence reports”. In my own experience as a lawyer I have long become wary of these terms which is why I would rather review the actual evidence than take such “sources” at face value.
In ending, I have come to the same conclusion as the exasperated Senator Richard Gordon “What has become of our police force?”
There are so many questions that need to be answered and I hope that this will not die a natural death as a lost memory after so much grandstanding in the Senate. I hope that there will indeed be a serious investigation and that whoever is found lying will be prosecuted with the full force of the law.