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13 ninja cops face new probe

Four still at it; police IAS fears case whitewash

The Justice department on Wednesday began its reinvestigation of 13 “ninja cops” who were accused of reselling confiscated drugs, even as the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police said it believed there was a whitewash in the investigation of the case.

13 ninja cops face new probe
THERE THEY ARE. A dozen of 13 so-called ‘ninja cops’ appear Wednesday at the Department of Justice after receiving subpoenas for a reinvestigation of the alleged drug recycling in 2013. Norman Cruz
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During the resumption of the investigation, all of the respondents were present, except for Police Major Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV, whom the Senate ordered detained at the New Bilibid Prison after being cited for contempt.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the reinvestigation of the complaint against the so-called 13 ninja cops after the Senate Blue Ribbon investigation showed that they were involved in the alleged recycling of about 160 kilos of shabu seized during a raid in Mexico, Pampanga in 2013.

Baloyo and the 12 other policemen who carried out the raid were also accused of releasing Chinese drug trafficker Johnson Lee, in exchange for a P50-million bribe and new sports utility vehicles.

At yesterday’s hearing, DOJ panel head Senior Associate State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez said they wrote to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and asked that Baloyo, who has been cited in contempt by the Senate and was placed in the custody of the New Bilibid Prison, be allowed to attend the proceedings.

The complainant, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, has also asked the Senate for transcripts from the Blue Ribbon committee hearings on the ninja cops.

Police Lt. Col. Joseph Orsos, one of the lawyers for CIDG, said the testimonies of witnesses would be their most crucial evidence against the 13 police respondents.

Meanwhile, Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo of the IAS said they would file new administrative cases against the 13 ninja cops next week.

Triambulo also said four of the 13 ninja cops who were reassigned to Antipolo City have been involved again in “ninja-type” operations.

Triambulo identified the four cops as Lt. Joven de Guzman, Msgt. Donald Roque, Msgt. Rommel Vital, and Corporal Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero.

He said they have prepared a recommendation of dismissal, but this has not yet been transmitted to the concerned PNP office.

Triambulo also said he will ask Congress to put IAS in a separate office outside of the PNP so they can be independent, particularly in enforcing sanctions against erring policemen.

Meanwhile, National Police Commission Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao said he was alarmed over the involvement of the Pampanga cops in Antipolo City drug operations.

“Because of this development we are more determined now to look closely into the activities of these 13,” Casurao said.

“This is an indicator already, the same pattern, with this investigation now we can be sterner in our approach because we’ve established there is a pattern,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the CIDG should secure the testimonies of key witnesses in the 2013 drug sting in Pampanga.

“Perpetuating testimony entails the filing of a petition in court seeking to obtain the deposition of a material witness before a case is actually filed in court. In the context of the DOJ [Department of Justice] reinvestigation of the so-called ‘ninja cops’ involved in the Pampanga raid in 2013, the proper party to file such a petition at this time is the complainant, CIDG,” Guevarra said in a text message.

Guevarra made the statement after Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigating the so-called ninja cops, said that it is important to secure the testimonies of the three Pampanga cops and barangay officials who were first to get hold of suspected drug trafficker Johnson Lee who was allegedly released after paying a P50-million bribe.

Gordon said perpetuating the testimonies of the witnesses would mean going to court and executing an affidavit there.

The three Mexico policemen are Police Staff Sgts. Jerome Bugarin, Marlon dela Cruz, and Jackson Mariano.

Gordon also said retired generals Rudy Lacadin, Benjamin Magalong, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino can also perpetuate their testimonies “if they wish to.”

READ: Magalong warns: 13 ‘ninja cops’ could end up dead

Lacadin and Aquino all testified against Philippine National Police chief Police General Oscar Albayalde linking him to the recycling of illegal drugs and switching of arrested drug suspects.

Albayalde was the Pampanga provincial police director when the drug raid was conducted. He repeatedly denied involvement in the operation but admitted that he asked Aquino about the status of the dismissal order against the 13 Pampanga cops whom he referred to as “his men.”

The Mexico policemen and the barangay officials, he said, could provide additional evidence that there was an attempt to cover up the November 2013 drug bust operation in Lakeshore View, Mexico.

READ: 'Senate can prove PNP chief's guilt'

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Topics: Department of Justice , ninja cops , Philippine National Police , New Bilibid Prison , Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV
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