4 of 13 ‘ninja’ cops eyed anew for dismissal

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    FOUR of the 13 rogue Pampanga police officers were involved in another “ninja-type” illegal activity when they were re-assigned to Antipolo City, the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) revealed yesterday.

    PNP-IAS Director General Alfegar Triambulo identified the four as Lt. Joven de Guzman, M/Sgt. Donald Roque, M/Sgt. Rommel Vital, and Cpl. Romeo Encarnacion Guerrero Jr.
    Triambulo said they have recommended the dismissal from service of the four for grave misconduct and serious irregularities, and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

    He said the recommendation for dismissal will be forwarded to the Discipline and Law Order division of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management for review before it is sent to PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa.

    “Natagalan pa bago pa makarating sa chief PNP (It took us time to send our recommendation to the chief PNP),” Triambulo said as he admitted that “sa aming previous inventory, meron almost 70 percent na cases galing sa IAS nationwide na hindi pa nade-desisyunan (based on our previous inventory, almost 70 percent of decided cases by IAS nationwide have not been acted upon by the PNP.)”

    The latest cases against the four ninja cops stemmed from a complaint filed by a certain Arnold Gramaje Jr., who claimed that seven Antipolo City police flagged him down along a road in Barangay Inarawan in Antipolo City last May 4 for an anti-illegal drugs checkpoint.
    Gramaje said he sped away as he refused to alight from his vehicle for fear. He said the cops started to shoot at his vehicle as he escaped.

    Gramaje alleged the cops followed him until he reached his house, where the police officers supposedly raided his residence and carted away his and his children’s valuables with an estimated value of only P30,000.

    Investigation showed the anti-drugs checkpoint was conducted without proper coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

    It was also discovered that the police officers faked a portion of its case spot report when they included a name of a barangay official as witness in the operation at Gramaje’s house. Barangay records showed such official was non-existent.

    Gramaje filed a complaint before the IAS office in Camp Crame.

    The seven cops were also charged with attempted murder, robbery, and planting of evidence before the Antipolo regional trial court.

    The four ninja cops were part of the team of 13 police officers from Pampanga who have been previously recommended for dismissal for the irregular November 2013 drug raid conducted in the house of a suspected Chinese drug trafficker in Mexico, Pampanga.

    Recently resigned PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde was the director of the Pampanga Police Provincial Office at the time of the questionable anti-narcotics operation.

    Senate hearings conducted in relation to the ‘agaw-bato’ scheme of ninja cops have unraveled that the 13 rogue policemen carried out the raid without proper coordination with the PDEA, as required under existing guidelines on the conduct of drug stings especially on high-profile suspects.

    The spot report on the operation likewise turned out to be bogus as it contained discrepancies in the amount of illegal drugs and cash seized and the time when the raid was conducted.

    The errant police officers declared confiscating only 32 kilos of shabu, when the actual weight of the illegal drugs seized was more than 200 kilos. The police likewise said the operation was held in the afternoon, when subdivision security records showed the police arrived on the scene in the morning.

    A different Chinese suspect was also presented to the media. The real suspect, a Chinese named Johnson Lee, was reportedly allowed to ‘escape’ after allegedly paying P50 million in bribe money.

    The team of police officers led by Maj. Rodney Baloyo was recommended dismissed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) way back in 2014, but which was never implemented. The cops were instead demoted by one rank, allegedly after Albayalde “intervened” against the implementation of the dismissal orders.

    The Department of Justice yesterday opened a new investigation into the sham November 2013 drug raid.

    Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alex Suarez said the PNP-CIDG were given until October 21 to submit its evidence and supplemental or amended complaint against the 13 ninja cops.

    The additional five days was requested by PNP lawyer, Lt. Col. Joseph Orsos.

    Three of the 13 respondents, Senior Master Sergeants Alcindor Tinio, Eligio Valeroso and Corporal Anthony Lacsamana, similarly asked for time more to submit additional evidence in their defense.

    The rest of the respondents, including Baloyo said they will no longer file additional evidence.

    Baloyo did not attend the hearing since he remains detained at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City where he was ordered jailed by the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees after he was cited in contempt for giving evasive answers during the Senate inquiry on the issue.

    The police officers are facings charges for violation of sections 27 (misappropriation of confiscated drugs), 21 (planting of evidence) and 32 (custody and disposition of evidence).

    Orsos told reporters after the hearing that the CIDG will get copies of the transcripts of the Senate hearings that preceded the DOJ reinvestigation to bolster their case.

    He added testimonies of witnesses made during the Senate inquiry will be “crucial” in the ongoing reinvestigation.

    INDEPENDENT IAS

    Triambulo said it is best for the IAS to be an independent body to investigate the misdeeds of policemen as it will have more teeth to impose sanctions against erring cops.

    At present, the IAS is directly under the Office of the PNP chief.

    Triambulo said the IAS should be placed be directly under the Department of the Interior and Local Government and be manned by civilians.

    Triambulo said they have recommended to the National Police Commission that the IAS be given adjudicatory powers.

    “Humingi kami ng adjudicatory powers, na ‘yung aming decision ay maging final at executory para kapag aming irelease ‘yung aming decision, ‘yun po ay i-implement na lang nila (We are asking for adjudicatory powers so that our decision can become final and executory so that when we issue decisions, the PNP will just implement them),” he said.

    He said IAS also wants that it be given power to protect complainants and witnesses against police officers who threaten their pursuers while the cases are being investigated.
    The requests, Triambulo said, are now under consideration by the Napolcom.

    PNP officer-in-charge Archie Gamboa said the PNP empathizes with the IAS as the latter’s recommendations can still be subject for review of the PNP.

    “I know their sentiments because they have been asking for that for quite some time. They have been asking for fiscal independence,” Gamboa said.

    Gamboa said at present, the IAS request cannot be granted yet since the office still lacks the necessary manpower to become independent.

    He said the IAS was created to be under the Office of the PNP chief so the latter can also police IAS officials and staff if they become remiss in the disposition of their job. – With Ashzel Hachero