THE friction between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the PNP over the revelation that “ninja cops” continue to infiltrate the ranks of the police has gotten out of hand.
Yesterday, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino rebuked the PNP leadership for allegedly singling him out when it ordered the recall of his 12 police security escorts effective last September18.
In an interview over dzMM, Aquino rejected PNP chief Oscar Albayalde’s statement that the police escorts were recalled for temporary reassignment to secure athletes and delegates of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) which will be held in the country from November 30 to December 11 this year.
The opening ceremony for the 2019 SEA Games is set to take place at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Aquino said he was not buying Albayalde’s reason, as he claimed that his police security escorts have been assigned to him from the time he was the regional police director of (Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) up to now that he has been appointed PDEA chief after his retirement from police service in September 2017.
Aquino’s security escorts were detailed with the PRO 3 (Central Luzon) regional mobile group.
Aquino said his revelation during a Senate budget hearing on the recycling of seized drugs by ninja cops and the illegal drug activities of alleged drug queen Guia Gomez Castro could have been the main reasons why his security details were recalled.
“Ang na-reveal ko lang si drug queen Guia Gomez (Castro) at ‘yung ninja cops na involved kay Guia Gomez. Nagalit ba sila doon? Kaya kahit paano siguro nagkaroon kami ng friction ng PNP because of the revelation dito sa ninja cops
(Did the PNP get angry with me because I revealed the activities of drug queen Guia Gomez Castro and the ninja cops involved with Guia Gomez? I think it has somehow created a friction between me and the PNP because of the revelation about these ninja cops),” Aquino said.
Albayalde denied Aquino’s claims as he insisted that the recall of the police security had nothing to do with the issue over the ninja cops and Castro.
Albayalde reiterated the recall order was due to the upcoming 30th SEA Games.
“No, actually that’s just a coincidence because of the SEA games doon na mangyayari (which will be held there in Central Luzon). Remember we need thousands of personnel to secure the delegates. Mag-start mga practices and all sa Clark economic zones and they will also conduct rehearsals and prepare for other things at the Clark economic zone,” he said.
Aside from that, he said the PNP hierarchy only wanted to implement a directive from President Duterte for them to strictly follow the Alunan doctrine, which sets the rule that having more than two armed men moving or assembling constitutes a private army that must be broken up and disarmed.
Albayalde said Aquino has too many police security escorts, which he said totaled to 15 and was not sanctioned by the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG).
Aquino clarified his escorts were only 12.
Albayalde said the assignment of the police security escorts to Aquino was temporary as it was an arrangement between the PDEA chief and the former leadership of PRO3, which was then under police Brig. Gen. Amador Corpus, now the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. PRO3 is now headed by Brig. Gen. Joel Napoleon Coronel.
Albayalde said he authorized Coronel to temporarily send back four of Aquino’s security escorts, but Aquino said he “forced” all his 12 escorts to report back to him last September 26 after securing a verbal order from the President.
Aquino said he discussed the issue with Duterte on September 25 and requested asked to have his 12 police escorts back. He said the President gave a verbal order for him to have his police escorts back.
Aquino said he “forced” his 12 police security escorts to report back to him last September 26 based on the President’s “verbal instruction” and even without a written formal order from Coronel.
He also claimed his men were prevented from getting out of Camp Olivas, the headquarters of PRO 3 based in City of San Fernando in Pampanga, where they were made to secure the camp’s gates.
“Pina-guwardiya sila sa gate ng Kampo Olivas. Hindi naman SEA Games-related ‘yun (My police escorts were made to guard the gates of Camp Olivas. That is not related to the SEA Games,” Aquino justified his action.
Aquino complained that his security escorts were made to stay at Camp Olivas when the police details of other VIPs were allowed to return to their respective special assignments after undergoing the periodic regular accounting of police escorts.
Aquino said he has requested the PNP leadership to transfer the assignments of his security escorts to the PSPG to legalize their assignment to him but his request has not been acted upon until now.
He said he also asked PSPG and Malacanang to exempt him from the Alunan doctrine.
Aquino said Malacanang has already made a commitment that he can have more than two security escorts due to the nature of his work as the country’s anti-illegal drugs czar.
“Whether I like it or not, I create new enemies everyday – the drug lords, drug pushers, international drug syndicates, and even the ninja cops. That’s why death threats on me are very high nowadays,” Aquino said.
“It’s really very hard for me to make moves against illegal drugs because I don’t know who’s mad at me or not, even if my friends are from government,” he also said.
Albayalde said he was waiting for Coronel’s comment on allowing the return of Aquino’s security escorts considering that he (Coronel) will lose 15 of his men.
“Those are his men. The assessment is for Coronel to make. We give that to the commanders on the ground. We cannot dictate everything that they have to do,” he said.
At the same time, Albayalde dismissed as mere speculation reports that Duterte has already issued a relief order for him due to his alleged involvement with ninja cops during his time as the regional director of PRO3 in 2014.
Albayalde said he already talked with the President and explained his side.
“Let the President decide. He said he will check the Senate report, that’s what he told me. I also briefed him on the status of the ninja cops and our campaign against illegal drugs,” Albayalde said.
He also brushed aside rumors that Police. Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, the deputy PNP chief for operations (number three man) has already been appointed by the President as officer-in-charge.
The alleged relief order was bolstered after the Philippine Military Academy held a testimonial parade in his honor last Saturday as he was due to retire from service on November 8 when he reach the mandatory retirement age of 56.
He said the testimonial parade came in early as most of his classmates belonging to PMA Class of 1986 wanted to dramatize a walkout that happened during their time in support of two of their classmates who were wrongfully dismissed due to a hazing incident.
He said his classmates had planned on attending the testimonial parade and do a “walk in” in the academy, a reverse of the walkout which they did as second year cadets . He did not name the dismissed cadets.
Albayalde said they were not able to conduct the “walk in” as a show of respect to the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio last September 18.
Albayalde has earlier admitted that internal politics remains to be a big problem in the PNP especially when the PNP chief is set for retirement as senior officers wanting to get the soon-to-be vacated post jockey for the post.
He said the President normally names the next PNP chief 10 days or even a week before the formal turnover
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to immediately cancel the passport of Castro, whom he said can now be considered a fugitive from justice.
The former village chief of barangay 484 Zone 48 in Manila was confirmed to have left the country last September 21 on board a Cebu Pacific flight for Bangkok, Thailand.
Drilon said that under the Philippine Passport Act, the foreign affairs secretary is authorized to cancel a passport “in the interest of national security” or when the holder of the passport is a fugitive from justice.
“It appears that Mrs. Castro does not intend to return to the country and face the warrants of arrest issued against her since 2002 for violation of Republic Act 6425 or the Dangerous Drugs Act. Hence, she is a fugitive from justice,” Drilon said.
The former justice secretary explained that well-settled jurisprudence defines fugitive from justice as a person, who, having committed a crime, flees from jurisdiction of the court where a crime was committed, departs from his usual place of abode and conceals himself and is found within territory of another.
Drilon said that based on jurisprudence, conviction is not a requirement to consider a person as a fugitive from justice, saying that filing of charges prior to flight is not always an antecedent requirement to label one a “fugitive from justice”.
“The jurisprudence clarifies that mere commission of a crime and subsequent flight thereto sufficiently meets the definition of a fugitive. Hence, the DFA, to avoid miscarriage of justice and by virtue of the Philippine Passport Act, can validly and lawfully cancel her passport so we can restrict Castro’s movement, and summon her back to the country to face charges against her,” he said.