Strange things have occurred in the Philippine National Police, supposedly our first line of defense against criminals.
The police have the sworn duty to “serve and protect” the civilians and the general public, but not a few of them have veered away from their noble calling.
In other words, they “swerve and serve” whoever dangles the gold before their very eyes. Gold could be in the form of drugs, cold cash or any other precious commodity.
Take for instance, the “ninja cops” whose stealthy, lightning-quick moves earned them the unsavory moniker with a lot of chutzpah.
With the tacit approval of their equally unscrupulous superiors, the “ninja cops” usually stage drug buy-busts.
This is how they make their modus of operation legitimate. Then, they seize the drug hoard and keep a small sample as evidence, while pocketing the lion’s share for them to recycle and peddle through their own network of drug pushers.
This has become a vicious cycle. The drug lords meanwhile are lapping it up in luxury. Now, we know why drug abuse is a never-ending, pernicious social problem.
The “ninja cops” have also spawned a new breed of “rats.”
We are not talking of mice but of men. These are people whose business is ratting on suspected drug users or pushers.
These “rats”have been glorified as police “assets” or witnesses when, in truth and in fact, they and the “ninja cops” belong to the same gutter-low category in the animal kingdom.
For their efforts, the “ninja assets” gain reward and, if the ninja cops feel generous, get to have a share or percentage of the loot after the buy-bust is wrapped up and concluded.
Stranger still, the controversial case between a bemedalled police officer and the number two man in the PNP hierarchy is one for the books.
The controversy can be traced to a police raid in a house owned by Negros Oriental Congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr., a suspect in the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.
On the strength of a search warrant, the police raiders seized assorted high-powered firearms and ammunitions from Teves’ home, enough to maintain a well-equipped army of goons.
The police raid was spearheaded by Col. Hansel Marantan, chief of the CIDG-NCR, for which he received the PNP Medal of Valor from no less than Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
This is one more “pogi point”or a feather in Marantan’s cap.
Days after the Negros raid, Marantan’s men set off on another mission, this time targeting a gambling den in Paranaque City.
Thirteen Chinese nationals found in the gambling den were arrested and detained but eventually freed. Someone however blew the whistle leading to allegations the raiding team stole money and personal belongings from the Chinese nationals.
Out of delicadeza and in the interest of transparency, Marantan tendered his resignation ”to give way to an impartial investigation.”
The 13 Chinese, for their part, issued a formal affidavit giving the arresting policemen a clean bill and cleared the CIDG-NCR of any irregular conduct during the gambling raid.
The Chinese wrote in their affidavit: “Aside from pieces of evidence they have recovered during their operation, the CIDG-NCR never took money or any personal belongings from the undersigned.”
They also refused to pursue anymore charges against the CIDG-NCR.
So where’s the connection between the Teves house raid the Paranaque foray?
Enter Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, PNP deputy chief for administration who was once implicated by then Senator Panfilo Lacson in a multi-million-budget misuse sometime in 2019.
Sermonia eventually got off the hook.
It was Sermonia who prodded the 13 Chinese to file a complaint against the Paranaque raiders despite the fact that the Chinese nationals had already cleared the arresting cops. The Chinese refused to be cowed and declined the DCA’s suggestion.
Acording to Marantan, it was also Sermonia who called a media conference to malign the CIDG-NCR chief. “By calling for a press conference, making baseless accusations, Gen Sermonia maligned my person, character my honor and that of the whole CIDG.” Marantan went on: “The accusations, as disproved by the sworn statements of arrested Chinese nationals, show that these were clearly prompted by personal ill-will, spite and/or malice with the object of destroying my reputation and the CIDG and ridiculing our image before the bar of public opinion.”
Marantan said he was willing to be punished if the charges were to stick, but bringing the premature allegations to the media pending a formal investigation was totally uncalled for, particularly coming from a father of the organization.
In fairness to Sermonia, his avowed goal to purge the scalawags in uniform is meritorious and laudable. There is an “internal cleansing” campaign of the PNP and Sermonia has hit the nail right on the head but his approach should not be selective. Moreover, he should see to it that he does not overstep the bounds of his functions and powers lest he would be accused of being overeager.
Already, Marantan has questioned Sermonia’s actions: Isn’t “internal cleansing the function of Internal Affairs? And why did he single me out?”
“Who is protecting who?”, Marantan asked.
It’s quite obvious by now that the Negros raid and the Paranaque episode are intertwined after all. So, what gives? As they say in Alice in Wonderland, things are getting “curioser and curioser.”
(The author is a freelance journalist whose varied interests range from crime stories, environment, trade to food and farming.)