5 cops in Duterte drug ma­trix now in PNP cus­tody

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Nation -

MANILA -- The five ac­tive po­lice of­fi­cials tagged as in­volved in il­le­gal drug ac­tiv­i­ties are now un­der the cus­tody of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP).

In a press brief­ing on Mon­day, PNP chief Direc­tor Gen­eral Os­car Al­bay­alde said Se­nior Supt. Leonardo Suan, Supt. Lorenzo Ba­cia, Insp. Lito Pirote, Insp. Con­rado Caragdag and SPO4 Ale­jan­dro Ger­ardo Li­wanag were sum­moned to Camp Crame to face probe on the al­le­ga­tions against them.

“In com­pli­ance with the or­ders of Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I have di­rected the CIDG (Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion and De­tec­tion Group) and the DPRM (Directorate for Per­son­nel and Records Man­age­ment) to en­sure the avail­abil­ity of six dis­missed and ac­tive PNP per­son­nel to face in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Na­tional Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion in con­nec­tion with on­go­ing probe into the re­ported drug smug­gling at the Bureau of Cus­toms,” Al­bay­alde said in a press brief­ing af­ter Mon­day’s flag cer­e­mony.

The names of the five po­lice of­fi­cials, along with dis­missed Se­nior Supt. Ed­uardo Acierto, ap­peared in a drug ma­trix made pub­lic by Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte.

“I have di­rected the PNP In­ter­nal Af­fairs Ser­vice to im­me­di­ately con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine whether there is prob­a­ble cause to file ad­min­is­tra­tive cases against these ac­tive PNP per­son­nel,” Al­bay­alde said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tive cases that may be slapped against the five ac­tive po­lice­men have a max­i­mum penalty of dis­missal from the ser­vice and for­fei­ture of re­tire­ment ben­e­fits.

“(The in­struc­tion to us) is we let the NBI do the in­ves­ti­ga­tion so we will co­op­er­ate with the NBI. We can­not con­firm kung (if they are re­ally in­volved), let the court de­cide on that. They will be given due process. As we said, we can­not as­sume that they are guilty un­less proven. They will be given due process,” the PNP chief ex­plained.

Al­bay­alde ad­mit­ted that they have not re­ceived any re­port about the six po­lice­men in the drug ma­trix when they were still in the anti-il­le­gal drugs unit of the PNP.

He said they only learned of their al­leged in­volve­ment when the con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the smug­gling of shabu started, wherein one of the wit­nesses named Acierto and for­mer Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) Deputy Direc­tor Gen­eral for Ad­min­is­tra­tion Is­mael Fa­jardo.

“We have no in­for­ma­tion on them be­fore. But the Pres­i­dent has his sources,” said Al­bay­alde.

The coun­try’s top cop said they are not dis­count­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that more names would ap­pear dur­ing the course of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“This prob­lem has been ne­glected. In some ar­eas even out­side of Metro Manila or re­gions, it even be­came a cul­ture. This is why our op­er­a­tions are con­tin­u­ous and we are slowly un­cov­er­ing the truth,” Al­bay­alde noted.

Al­bay­alde said the com­mon link of the six po­lice­men is their as­sign­ment to the spe­cial unit of the PNP on il­le­gal drugs, which is un­der the Of­fice of the Chief PNP.

It was ear­lier called Anti-Il­le­gal Drugs Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Task Force (AIDSOTF), which was later named Anti-Il­le­gal Drugs Group (AIDG). The AIDG was dis­man­tled due to the in­volve­ment of its men in the con­tro­ver­sial kid­nap-slay of South Korean busi­ness­man Jee Ick Joo.

It was when the PNP Drug En­force­ment Group (PDEG) was re­named and re­or­ga­nized that the six cops parted ways, ac­cord­ing to Al­bay­alde.

Suan was as­signed to East­ern Visayas, Acierto was dis­missed from the ser­vice while the four other cops were re­as­signed to var­i­ous posts.

Acierto and Fa­jardo were im­pli­cated in the smug­gling of PHP11 bil­lion worth of shabu through the Bureau of Cus­toms in Au­gust this year. This re­sulted in Fa­jardo’s sack­ing from his post as PDEA’s num­ber two man.

Suan will­ing to face probe

Suan, mean­while, said he was sur­prised over the al­le­ga­tion.

“If you will read the ma­trix and the re­port to the Pres­i­dent, there is no al­le­ga­tion of any il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity against me. My pic­ture was just put in there. I haven’t joined Acierto and Fa­jardo in any sin­gle op­er­a­tion. My col­leagues can at­test to that. We know each other be­cause of AIDSOTF but we were not in the same group. I am in one unit, they are in an­other),” Suan told re­porters.

The po­lice of­fi­cial also said he is ready to face probe and clear his name.

Al­bay­alde ear­lier said these of­fi­cers have al­ready been re­lieved from their po­si­tions to give way to a fair in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Acierto, who was on top of the ma­trix, was one of the seven cops or­dered dis­missed in Au­gust over their al­leged in­volve­ment in the anoma­lous is­suance of AK-47 ri­fle li­censes from 2011 to 2013 that sup­pos­edly ended up in the hands of New Peo­ple’s Army rebels in Min­danao. (PNA)

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