IT’s a bit difficult to understand why the usually intrepid and intelligent Sen. Richard Gordon, the head of the Senate blue ribbon committee, in his investigation of the reselling of captured illegal drugs, hasn’t gone on to summon former interior and local government secretary Mar Roxas and the then Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to shed light on this sordid crime.
They were in charge of the PNP when this crime — the pilferage of seized shabu worth hundreds of millions of pesos, and their resale to drug lords — was discovered and came to public view. Yet the two did nothing.
It is a bit suspicious that attention — and the lynch mob — so far has focused on PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde, who will be retiring next month. It is bizarre that media has been reporting the recycling of seized illegal drugs by rogue police, dubbed “ninja cops,” as if this crime happened just yesterday.
You see, this ninja cops thing happened nine years ago in November 2013, when Albayalde was chief of the Pampanga regional police, and 13 of his men were accused of recycling drugs by then Police Supt. (Col.) Benjamin Magalong, the head at the time of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). Nine years later, last week, Magalong claimed in the Senate investigation that Albayalde, instead of implementing a dismissal order against the cops, deferred it and then got them to be reassigned to Mindanao.
The Pampanga cops, led by then Col. Rodney Baloyo, allegedly made off with some 160 kilograms of shabu, worth about P648 million at the time, following an anti-drug operation on alleged Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.
Baloyo’s team also allegedly set Lee free. And they were even so audacious as to present another Chinese, identified in reports as Ding Wengkun, in exchange for P50 million.
A dismissal order was issued against the “ninja cops” in November 2014, but it was not served, and in 2017, the cops were merely demoted.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino testified last week that three years later, in 2016, when he was the Central Luzon police chief, Albayalde, who was then Metro Manila’s top cop, called him, initially to seek updates on the case of the Pampanga cops. Aquino said that when he told Albayalde that he would want to review the case files, Albayalde said: “Sir, for the meantime we should review the case and have it checked because I really want to know the result of the investigation.”
I find it strange that Magalong and Aquino — with the same rank as Albayalde at the time — said not a word against the future PNP chief’s alleged complicity.
What is even stranger in all this, and in the Senate hearings, is that all these PNP officials talked as if they had no bosses. It is inconceivable that Magalong simply shut up when the ninja cops seemed to be getting away with their crime – according to him, with Albayalde’s help. Didn’t he report to his boss Purisima such a serious crime, of helping rogue cops get away?
Even more bizarre is that this ninja cops thing already had become front-page news — but surprisingly unreported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s print editions — back in March 2014, when Magalong even called a press conference in which he accused the chief of the Pampanga CIDG, together with six others, of being involved in the drug-recycling modus operandi, at that time called “agaw bato.”
Former President Aquino 3rd’s sidekick Mar Roxas became head of interior and local government — the department supervising the PNP — in September 2012, while Alan Purisima, “Noynoy’s” official bodyguard when his mother was president, headed the police since December 2012 .
Roxas could have gone to town as a tough interior secretary going after the ninja cops, a perfect opportunity for him to build up his image as Ninoy’s most capable successor in the 2016 elections. Purisima needed an image booster as he was being accused over a rigged firearms license delivery contract he signed in 2011.
Why didn’t Roxas and Purisima act on Magalong’s public disclosures of ranking police officials being involved in drug “recycling”? In fact, the silence of the two has been so deafening that we have been made aware of this ninja cops crime only nine years later.
Going further up of course, why was Aquino so quiet about this allegation and didn’t do anything about it? It was also a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that the PNP was not exempt from his “daang matuwid” campaign.
Or was there during Aquino’s regime a veritable infrastructure of government collusion — involving allegedly even the justice secretary and for chrissakes the maximum-security prison that was under her — with the illegal drugs industry that even President Duterte’s three-year anti-drugs campaign hasn’t been able to dismantle?
Rather than going after the PNP chief who is retiring next month, isn’t that a bigger issue that Gordon’s blue-ribbon committee should now investigate, as that infrastructure likely would still be intact?