Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) such as patrolmen and lieutenants should not be immediately allowed to be assigned to the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG), Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Sunday said.
In a radio interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Dela Rosa said that the PNP has to adjust its administrative policies–including its vetting system–on who should be assigned to the PDEG.
Dela Rosa made the comment following the alleged cover-up in the more than P6 billion shabu bust in Manila last year.
“As I’ve said, there should be no patrolman or lieutenant assigned in PDEG. They should be exposed in the field and to difficult assignments first. The ones graduating from the academy should not be sent straight away to PDEG. Their exposure is wrong,” Dela Rosa said.
The lawmaker added that “they immediately get exposed to the wrong jobs when the seniors they were assigned to were already like ninja cops.”
Earlier, the former director of the PDEG admitted lapses in the October 2022 drug bust in which P6.4 billion worth of shabu was seized but denied there was any cover-up.
Testifying before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, former PDEG chief Police Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo admitted he had not told the panel the whole truth about the drug raid.
“I admit that there are lapses in our entire operation, but such judgment calls and procedural lapses were done by me in good faith based on the reports of my men,” Domingo said.
For example, there was a lapse when the operating team did not conduct an inventory on the scene after confiscating two kilos of shabu from then Police Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo.
However, Domingo said that if they had followed the rule, they might not have discovered the 990 kilos of shabu.
When the 990 kilograms of shabu was later seized, policemen committed a violation when they pilfered about 42 kilos of the contraband, Domingo said.
Domingo said there was also a procedural lapse when he submitted a sketchy report by PDEG Special Operations Unit Region 4A chief Police Col. Julian Olonan to then-PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Oct. 8. That report did not implicate Mayo, Domingo was told, because they believed Mayo could point them to a bigger stash of shabu.
“I was too presumptive on the regularity of my men’s performance of duty, your honor,” Domingo told the committee.
At the time, Domingo said he told his subordinates to file appropriate cases against Mayo even if he was set to give them information on a bigger drug bust.
But Azurin later canceled follow-up operations and told Domingo to secure Mayo in case he might be killed in an attempt by some crooked police officers to cover their tracks.
Domingo said he was only two months on the job at the time, and put too much faith in the people assigned to the PDEG.
He said if there was really a cover up he would not report about the 990 kilogram of shabu and Mayo and his supposed accomplice Ney Atadero would not be charged in court.
PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda, meanwhile, said he would not dismantle PDEG after all but put in place a stricter vetting process.
Acorda said the PNP should pick candidates who have the best credentials and clean slates to avoid the kind of controversy that has been hounding the group.