In a media briefing last Tuesday, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments, lawyer Ben Hur Abalos, expressed his disgust over what he called the apparent “cover-up” of the real incident during the raid last year of a warehouse by the drug enforcement unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The law enforcement operation, according to the police report, netted a bulk of the prohibited substance with an estimated value of P6 billion. According to Abalos, it was the biggest haul ever made by the authorities, which also caused the arrest of a police officer.
During and immediately after the raid, closed circuit television (CCTV) footage showed the handcuffing of the police officer, one Sgt. Mayo. However, when two higher officials on the anti-illegal drugs unit arrived on the scene, one a police colonel and another a general, Mayo was released after a few minutes of conversation. He was also escorted into an SUV that followed the higher officers’ vehicle.
The subsequent footage on CCTV presented by Abalos during his press briefing showed Mayo back in the raided warehouse without handcuffs and now helping to inventory the captured merchandise.
A task group that was later organized by the police to conduct a probe on the incident included the General and Colonel, who came to the scene as “persons of interest.” They were later ordered suspended pending a further probe into their possible complexity.
Of course, the two were lightning-quick in denying the alleged cover-up and their connection with the owner of the drugs. In fact, one of the two unabashedly cried in front of the camera, possibly his way of improving the credibility of his denial. The other one was caught on camera showing sarcasm over his inclusion as a “person of interest.”
He claimed that he is now suspected as a villain instead of being lauded for his unit’s accomplishment. And he told the media what they did in releasing Sgt. Mayo was for him to eventually lead the anti-illegal drugs unit to where the prohibited items are stocked or processed and eventually to the top people behind the illegal drugs trade. He added that what they did had the knowledge of their superior officers, apparently referring to the top PNP hierarchy up to PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin.
From these claims by the general, we believe Abalos must have based his strong suspicion on a cover-up. Yes, because if indeed it is true, as claimed by the PNP, one-star general in that unit, then they were only following the advice of their superiors as a matter of courtesy.
As head of the Department with jurisdiction over the PNP, Abalos should have been informed in its strictest confidentiality. Why then was the Secretary kept in the dark about the entire police operation?
Indeed it was unfortunate that the one person who should have complete knowledge of police operations, especially when the success of such police work will have a major impact on society, was the last to know about it.
And how else the disparity in the police report submitted to the investigating task group from those scenes captured on CCTV during, immediately after, and later in that raid should be interpreted by someone who is a lawyer and has responsibility over the PNP? If it was not a cover-up, then what was it? Yes, the statements and the video footage did leave a lot of room for doubts.
Last Tuesday, April 11, Davao City was back to its normal state. That is, vehicular traffic was humongous on some major city streets. The decibel of noise in the city’s central business district (CGD) was again at its high level. Sidewalks were crowded again with peddlers, PUV drivers picking up and dropping passengers in the middle of the street, and bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving little space for drivers to maneuver.
Of course, the city’s condition like this is admittedly a vexation to everyone’s spirit. But who cares? The Davao City that was before the Holy Week and the same city after Lent is precisely what it is and should be when the economy is working, and the city is progressing.
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