The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on Thursday said there are many other groups of corrupt policemen involved in illegal activities.
In an interview over radio dzMM, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said while the “ninja liit” cops are involved in small operations of selling illegal drugs amounting to P1 million to P3 million, “volt in” cops operate on much smaller transactions and are usually former classmates.
“A small operation is not being coursed through the ‘ninja cops’ but through the ‘ninja liit.’ The ‘ninja cops’ would not like small operations. They would wait until the operation is around P20 million,” he said.
The “volt in” cops are also into other crimes, he said.
“They meet just to do crimes for the sake of money,” he added.
“Actually, there are many other groups [of scalawag cops] out there,” the PDEA chief said.
Under the previous PDEA administrations, at least two anti-narcotics ere charged and removed from the service for recycling seized drugs, he said.
A PDEA driver was also involved in the recycling of drugs, and was immediately fired, he added.
According to the PDEA, there are 854 policemen in the watch list of President Rodrigo Duterte for selling and using illegal drugs, and even protecting drug traffickers.
At least 22 “ninja cops” are still in active service, it said.
But the Palace said “ninja cops” or those tied to organized drug syndicates are “a thing of the past.”
“What we have are police scalawags,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, quoting the chief of the Philippine National Police, Oscar Albayalde.
The “ninja cops” syndicate, he said, has been dismantled by Albayalde and former police chief Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Panelo said.
He acknowledged, however, that rogue policemen remain a serious problem.
“You know, when even one policeman is involved, it’s serious. Can you imagine, you are a law enforcer but you’re a law violator? This is really serious,” Panelo said.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, former director of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, supposedly identified “ninja cops” in a Sept. 19 executive session with senators.
Magalong accused several Pampanga policemen of recycling drugs in 2007, when Albayalde was still the provincial police chief.
Senator Christopher Go, Duterte’s longtime aide, said the President will soon reveal the names of police officers linked to drug recycling.
President Duterte was furious after learning that corrupt police officers remain, three years after the government launched an anti-narcotics crackdown, Go said.
The President will validate the list of “ninja cops” with his “own resources,” Panelo said.
PNP spokesman Bernard Banac said if the Senate wants to disclose the names of those involved, it is all right with the police.
The Senate unanimously authorized the Blue Ribbon and justice committees to name high-ranking “ninja cops” referred to by Magalong.
On Wednesday night, Duterte warned “ninja cops” that they will “die first” if they continue their illegal activities.
“I’m sorry to tell you, everybody dies in this world but you will go ahead first,” Duterte said in his speech during the corporate event of a Hong Kong-based real estate developer in Parañaque City.
Duterte also slammed them for thinking that they are the “lords of this country.”
On Thursday, Aquino identified the Manila-based “drug queen” as a barangay chairwoman Guia Gomez Castro of Zone 48 in Sampaloc, and said she enriched herself by P1 billion from her illegal drug operations since 2001.
READ: Narco-cops’ list to Rody; Sampaloc drug queen named
Castro gave grease money and even luxury vehicles to corrupt policemen to protect her illicit activity, Aquino said.
Castro had connections with all illegal drug traders and the so-called “ninja cops” who would recycle and sell confiscated drugs without any question, he said.
She was first arrested in 2001 for illegal possession of one kilo of drugs, Aquino said. However, the drug case against her was dropped for no apparent reason.
Castro’s illegal drug operation flourished after her case was dismissed, he said.
Manila officials said Castro has not reported for work in her village since April 25.
First barangay councilor Antonio Calima took over the chairmanship.
The PDEA chief said 17 drug distributors work for Castro, who reportedly could sell and distribute two to three kilos of drugs in Manila alone under the protection of several police officers as well as of high-ranking officials.
Because of her wealth, Castro could easily hire other drug protectors to replace the “ninja cops” who were arrested or killed, got retired or went on absence without leave, Aquino said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said he will issue an immigration lookout bulletin against Castro.
Senator Richard Gordon, however, said he believed the “drug queen” story was floated to divert public attention from the “ninja cops” or to eliminate a possible witness against senior police officials.
“Why did this issue on the drug queen suddenly surface? It seems there is an attempt to focus the camera away from what is happening. That even makes me more curious,” he said.
“It could be a diversionary tactic or a way of eliminating a possible witness against the senior officials.
Senator Leila de Lima, meanhile, said Duterte’s entire war on drugs was set up to protect big-time drug lords.
The illicit drug trade, she said, is being allowed to flourish at the expense of poor drug suspects who do not have the means to defend themselves, much less leave the country.
She questioned why Castro was arrested just recently when policemen had leads about her drug operation for a long time. With Rey E. Requejo
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