3 of 4 Antipolo ‘ninja cops’ fired

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    POLICE officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday said he has approved the dismissal from service of three of the four ninja cops from Pampanga who got involved in another “ninja-type” operation in Antipolo City last May.

    Gamboa said he approved the dismissal of M/Sgt. Donald Roque, M/Sgt. Rommel Vital, and Cpl. Romeo Encarnacion Guerrero Jr. based on the recommendation of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) which charged them with grave misconduct and serious irregularities in the performance of duty, and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

    Gamboa said he received the case folders last October 17 and signed them after making an exhaustive review.

    Criminal charges for attempted murder, robbery, and planting of evidence were also filed against the cops before the Antipolo City Regional Trial Court.

    Lt. Joven de Guzman, a fourth ninja cop, was recommended for a mere 59-day suspension by the IAS as he was charged with less grave misconduct, a recommendation which did not sit well with Gamboa.

    Gamboa said he ordered that the case against De Guzman be brought back to IAS for reinvestigation as he also wants him dismissed from service.

    “Binalik ko yan sa IAS for him to be tried for a graver offense kasi in the course of the investigation they have found out na ‘yung degree of participation nung isang opisyal is far more than what he is charged of (I reverted De Guzman’s case to IAS for him to be tried of a graver offense because in the course of the (re)investigation, they found out that his degree of participation is far more than what he is charged of),” Gamboa said.

    The four ninja cops were re-assigned to Antipolo City after they were relieved from Pampanga due to their involvement in the bogus anti-narcotics raid conducted in November 2013 on the house of suspected Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee in Mexico town.

    The PNP-CIDG has filed criminal charges before the Department of Justice against the 13 ninja cops, including resigned PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde.

    The four former Pampanga policemen were part of a seven-man team which raided the house of a certain Arnold Gramaje Jr. in May 2019 after the latter evaded an illegal drugs checkpoint in barangay Inarawan.

    Gramaje claimed the cops raided his house and carted away valuables amounting to P30,000.

    Gamboa said the dismissal orders on the three ninja cops and three others accused have yet to be served by the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management. They have the right to appeal their dismissal.

    Gamboa said that to date, the PNP has meted punishments to 9,172 cops for various administrative offenses, including involvement in criminal activities and violation of police rules and regulations from July 2016 to Sept. 20 this year.

    Of the number, Gamboa said 2,806 were dismissed from service, 535 were demoted in rank, 4,721 suspended, 762 reprimanded, 60 restricted to quarters, 208 forfeited salaries, and 80 withheld privileges.

    Of the number of dismissed, he said 454 were found guilty of involvement in illegal drugs, 352 tested positive for drug use, while 102 were involved in other drug-related activities.

    From January to September this year alone, he said a total of 2,286 cops were penalized for similar administrative offenses.

    INDEPENDENT IAS

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will file a bill making the IAS an independent office outside of the Philippine National Police and put it under the Office of the President.

    Sotto said he was “still drafting it but surely, it will be detached from the PNP and Napolcom (National Police Commission).”

    “The key to all this is for us to pluck out the IAS from the PNP and place it under the Office of the President,” Sotto said.

    A draft committee report of the Senate justice and blue ribbon committees, which have unearthed illegal activities of alleged “ninja cops” or rogue policemen, has likewise made the legislative proposal to “make IAS a truly independent institution, not within the PNP.”

    The report stated: “Quicker disposition of PNP disciplinary/administrative cases. It may now be time for the IAS to be an independent body outside of the police system.”

    The House of Representatives is likewise set to hold a hearing on the separation of IAS from the PNP and to give the service unit more teeth to discipline erring cops.

    PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday said he will let legislators decide whether or not to separate the IAS from the PNP.

    “Remember ang batas dapat merong stability. Kung kami ang tatanungin, we leave it up to Congress if they want to amend (the law) but mind you, we are studying na para mapagbigyan ‘yung kanilang hiling na adjudicatory powers, financial independence (Remember that a law must have stability. If we are to be asked, we leave it up to Congress if they want to amend the law, but mind you, we are already studying the IAS request to have adjudicatory powers and financial independence),” Gamboa said.

    The IAS also expressed a similar view, adding that it was toothless in implementing disciplinary actions on erring cops as all its recommendations are still subject for review by the Office of the PNP chief, which has direct control and supervision on IAS under the current set-up.

    IAS Director General Alfegar Triambulo has said he wants the IAS to be separated from the PNP and placed under the control and supervision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), making the unit the sole disciplinary body of the DILG and leaving the National Police Commission, an agency also under the DILG, as a policy-making body.

    IAS was created pursuant to RA 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 to inspect PNP personnel and units, investigate complaints and gather evidence, conduct summary hearings on administrative charges, and submit periodic reports on the character and behavior of personnel.

    IAS is only one of several agencies allowed by law to impose disciplinary actions on erring cops, including the People’s Law Enforcement Board, Napolcom, Ombudsman, the local courts, and the local government units.

    Gamboa said they also want the government to decrease the number of agencies which can discipline the PNP as there are instances when a different nature of complaints against a police officer are filed in the different disciplinary bodies which makes it hard for an accused cop to attend to the hearings especially if the disciplinary bodies are located in different areas.

    Its investigations concern incidents in which policemen discharge a firearm; cause death, serious physical injury or human rights violations in police operations; compromise, tamper or lose evidence; seriously injure suspects in police custody; or violate rules of engagement.

    Under the law, the decisions of IAS are appealable to the national office, and then the National Appellate Board, the formal administrative disciplinary machinery of the PNP. NAB decisions, meanwhile, can be reviewed by the Napolcom. – With Vince Nonato