Lost in the bustling noise of inflation and the economic turmoil it has created is the news about the confiscation of almost a ton of shabu worth an estimated P6.7 billion last October 8 in Manila.
Sure it made the news, but the treatment for such a feat would have been different under the previous dispensation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who placed the war against drugs as his government’s top priority.
The shabu seizure, which Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos says is the “biggest drug haul to date,” stemmed from an anti-illegal drug operation in Tondo, Manila.
Subsequent police operations led to the arrest of a police master sergeant assigned with—drum roll please—the Special Operations Group of the National Capital Region Police Office Drug Enforcement Unit!
I can only imagine the expletives President Duterte would have said upon learning that a policeman, much more one assigned to go after illegal drugs, is the one safekeeping and distributing shabu in the streets of Metro Manila.
“P…..I.., patyon ta ka,” he would have thundered.
Curiously, the shabu stockpile was discovered inside the premises of the Wealth and Personal Development Lending Inc. or WPD Lending Inc.
This coven of bad cops has very little creativity in using the WPD as acronym for the lending company, SEC-registered at that. Or perhaps more aptly—are they flaunting their power?
The drug syndicate’s model may have been a “one-stop shop” where they could inconspicuously store their product, distribute the drugs and launder the money all at the same time. Call it the “Wa-is Pulis Distribution and Lending.”
I will not be surprised if WPD Lending Inc. caters to loan applications from members of the former WPD, which is the Western Police District, now Manila Police District, and other police units in Metro Manila. Pwede na maski walang bayaran?
And while the commander of the Metro Manila police office, Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, was eerily silent, perhaps unaware about the operation, a “silent operator,” Brig. General Joseph Nartatez, the chief of Police Regional Office-4A or Calabarzon area, was said to have been the one who initiated the entire anti-illegal drug operation which led his operatives to Manila.
Kudos likewise goes to Brig. Gen. Andrei Dizon, the new chief of the Manila police, whose initial move to reshuffle all the unit and station commanders gained brickbats for going against the norm of the highly traditional and tightly knit culture of what is often called Manila’s Finest, for efficiently conducting the follow-up operations against the policeman suspect.
Interestingly, both Nartatez and Dizon opted to stay behind the cameras while DILG Sec. Abalos, PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin and Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna basked in the limelight of the accomplishment. Ah, all in a day’s work.
To these good cops, may your tribe increase.
• • •
A week later, reacting to public outcry over the murder of broadcast commentator Percy Lapid, a communications snafu (as the police establishment explained it) resulted in a most chilling incident, when GMA-TV’s JP Soriano got an unexpected visitor by his doorstep.
A policeman in plainclothes, after introducing himself and showing his ID, told Soriano he was “checking” on his security. Why Soriano and how the cop knew his home address, his employer did not know.
The cop in civilian attire asked if Soriano was getting threats to his life, just as TV-5’s Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra were getting threats on the internet.
The cop added that they received a directive from NCRPO Chief Jonnel Estomo to do house-to-house checks on the security of media personalities, which the general later confirmed when the incident was exposed.
Estomo said the intention of the police officer who visited Soriano was good “but unfortunately, this caused undue alarm and fear.” The police hierarchy forthwith stopped their “security” operation.
While I would not really classify the action as a case of “bad cop mentality,” someone should have advised the police officers that there are such institutions as the National Press Club (NPC), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and other media organizations where they could have communicated—institution to another institution—on how the police could have assisted media men in the wake of the murder of journalists and threats to their security.
There are many journalists, active and retired, who are or have been assigned to Camp Crame, whose advice the police officials could have sought before such program was implemented.
Hopefully, lessons have been learned, and cooperative relations between the PNP and media could be strengthened.
• • •
Just as we were writing this article, news came in that the Southern Police District under Gen. Kirby John Kraft and DILG Sec. Benhur Abalos presented to media the confessed gunman in the Percy Lapid murder case.
The presence of closed circuit monitors in the crime scene helped police in coming close to winnowing the suspect’s features, which the confessed gunman alleged made him fear for his safety, and made him surrender to the police authorities.
Although the veracity of the confessed gunman, a certain Joel Estorial, is still subject to further investigation, we have to commend the police for quick action on the Lapid murder case.
Pinpointing the mastermind and arresting him, allegedly a denizen of the notorious Bilibid prison in Muntinlupa, will hopefully bring justice not only to the Mabasa family, but to the entire media community.