By Beting Laygo Dolor
Just how many officers and men of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are involved in the pilfering and re-selling of impounded drugs is not yet clear but President Rodrigo Duterte’s scheduled media briefing may provide the answer.
Duterte is expected to reveal the complete list of cops involved in the illicit trade when he returns this week from his visit to Russia.
Known as “ninja cops,” the gang of corrupt policemen operated mostly in Metro Manila, according to former PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
In an executive session in the Senate last week, Magalong revealed details of the operations of the ninja cops, which will be revealed to the public this week.
Incumbent PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde was reportedly implicated by Magalong in the recycling of drugs. Even before the information was made public, Albayalde said he was ready to clear his name before the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice committees handling the investigation.
Initially, National Capital Region Police Office Chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said 16 policemen were involved, all of whom have been neutralized one way or another.
Eleazar said nine were already dead, two have retired, two were dismissed, two are absent without leave, and one is in jail.
But it is Magalong’s testimony before the Senate panels that is expected to reveal the extent of the scam. Blue Ribbon panel Chairman Richard Gordon said he was leaving it up to the President to inform the public what had been revealed during the executive session.
Albayalde was reportedly implicated because he was relieved of command as provincial director of Pampanga back in 2014 after some of his men were named as suspects in the drug recycling ring.
But Albayalde said he had been cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation by Gen. Manuel Gaerlan, then deputy regional director for operations in the Central Luzon province.
Gordon had said last week that the naming of alleged drug queen Guia Gomez Castro may have been a diversionary tactic to clear some PNP officials.
Feeling alluded to, Albayalde said, “We (PNP) did not name (Castro).”
It was Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino who named Castro as the drug queen who was also involved in re-selling impounded drugs.
Aquino said the recycling of drugs was “still rampant.”
Castro, a barangay official in the capital city of Manila, has left the country. Her whereabouts are unknown, although there are reports that she may be in Bangkok. Castro has three standing warrants for her arrest.
Eleazar had pointed to Castro as being heavily involved with the ninja cops and was able to evade arrest because of her connections. She reportedly gave cars to certain PNP officers who were her protectors.
The Sampaloc-based Castro had served as barangay chairperson but abandoned her post after a series of raids and arrests of some of her relatives supposedly involved in the drug trade.
The PNP and PDEA say that Castro is one of the country’s biggest drug dealers who maintained strong ties with the police for years in order to keep her operations going.
The drugs that the PNP retrieved from arrested pushers became an easy and ready source of supply, especially with the cooperation of the ninja cops.
The most common illegal drug in the country is metamphetamine hydrochloride, better known as shabu or poor man’s cocaine. A far second is marijuana.