PDEA to police: Haven’t you heard of ‘ninja’ cops?

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    BY RAYMOND AFRICA and JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR

    ANTI-DRUGS chief Aaron Aquino yesterday said he will make a full report on the illegal activities of “ninja cops” and submit this directly to President Duterte amid calls from the Department of Interior and Local Government and the PNP to back his claims that bad cops have been recycling illegal drugs and working in cahoots with a drug queen involved in the trading of confiscated drugs.

    “I will make a report to the President… Is this the first time they (PNP) heard about ninja cops?”

    Aquino said in a text message to Malaya.

    Aquino had admitted during a Senate hearing earlier this week on the proposed 2020 budget of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that the recycling of illegal drugs remains rampant due to corrupt activities of rogue policemen or ninja cops.

    In a radio interview Tuesday, Aquino said these ninja cops were also responsible for the botched operations against a “drug queen,” whom he had refused to identify so as not to compromise police operations.

    Aquino had claimed these scalawags have been giving advance information on scheduled or planned raids and entrapment operations to be conducted against the unnamed drug queen.

    President Duterte confirmed that errant law enforcers had been “recycling” illegal drugs, adding these “corrupt” offices should be killed.

    The President, during the oath taking of government appointees in Malacañang, was talking about the severity of corruption in government when he mentioned that there is corruption even in the illegal drugs practice and trade.

    “Totoo iyang corruption sa droga. Iyang recycle sinasabi lagi. Hindi, p***** i**, patayin mo talaga lahat ng pulis na crooked (Corruption in drugs is true. They often mention the recycling. It’s not, son of a b****, you’d really kill all those crooked cops),” he said.

    In a chance interview after the event, Duterte affirmed Aquino’s statement that unscrupulous anti-narcotics agents either sell seized illegal drugs or use them as planted evidence in bogus operations.

    He said he has early received reports that there were cases when instead of remitting all 20 kilos of illegal drugs seized during operations, some errant cops will only report confiscating 10 kilos and sell off the rest.

    “Matagal naman talagang ginagawa iyan and I cannot fault Aquino for saying it. I think he is also no, not only exasperated but I think he’s really very disappointed with everybody (That has long been a practiced and I cannot fault Aquino for saying it. I think he is also no, not only exasperated but I think he’s really very disappointed with everybody),” he said.

    Duterte also mentioned that one reason why illegal drug continues to thrive is because about a fourth of drug activities in greater Manila is controlled by convicts who are already inside the National Bilibid Prison.

    Asked what government has done to address the drug recycling issue, Duterte said he needs evidence to pin down the errant cops and officials.

    “Marami iyan. And it’s so prevalent. I’d, with the present setup of government, hindi mo makuha ito.

    You know, you just cannot fire him, for due process, right to be heard, investigation. Talo talaga ang gobyerno sa totoo lang. With so many restrictions, under the Bill of Rights, since this is a democracy, hanggang diyan lang talaga tayo. You cannot be a superman here. But little by little, maybe towards the end, I promise you that by the end of my term at least ma-minus-minus ang sakit ng ulo (They are many. And it’s so prevalent. With the present set-up of government, you cannot just get this. You know, you just cannot fire him, for due process, right to be heard, investigation. The government is at the losing end. With so many restrictions under the Bill of Rights, since this is a democracy, we’re limited there. You cannot be a superman here. But little by little, maybe towards the end, I promise you that by the end of my term at least you will have less headache),” he said.

    PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said they support the President’s desire to impose stiffer penalties on cops recycling drug evidence.

    “Pilferage and recycling of drug evidence by members of law enforcement is certainly worse than the crime committed by drug traffickers and therefore, should be treated differently, possibly with stiffer punishment,” Albayalde said in a statement.

    He said the PNP observes rigid rules and procedures to ensure fidelity in the custody of evidence that will be used to prosecute drug suspects.

    Albayalde said the PNP’s campaign on internal cleansing will remain relentless and “we will not stop until all rogue cops are weeded out in our organization.”

    National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said it was up to Aquino to go straight to the President, but insisted the PDEA chief should share with them any information he has on the shenanigans of ninja cops so the PNP can take appropriate actions against the scalawags.

    “It is up to him (Aquino) if he wants to report directly to the President. My point is, if anyone has information against our policemen, they might as well file charges. At present, we really cannot get evidence against our men because they are inactive,” Eleazar said.

    Eleazar said they have been discretely monitoring the movements of suspected ninja cops for evidence to pin them down but have so far remained empty-handed because most of the rogue cops have either gone on AWOL (absent without leave) or have been assigned outside drug enforcement units (DEUs).

    Eleazar said police officers assigned to DEUs were hand-picked and strictly screened. Their respective chiefs of police, he added, will be held liable for any wrongdoing a DEU operative may commit.

    However, the NCRPO chief admitted that “we have a number of our policemen under strict monitoring but we cannot gather enough evidence against them because they are inactive at present or they are no longer assigned with the drug enforcement units. They cannot join anti-illegal drugs operations so what will they recycle?”

    He said that at the Quezon City Police District alone, he has already ordered the transfer of at least 500 members of the drug enforcement units to other police units after he got reports that most of them have reportedly been engaged in illegal activities.