PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday moved to fasttrack the review process of the dismissal order against four “ninja cops” from Pampanga who recently figured in another “ninja-type” operation in Antipolo City.
Gamboa, in an interview over dzMM, said he has ordered a status check on the recommendation of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) to dismiss from service Lt. Joven de Guzman, M/Sgt. Donald Roque, M/Sgt. Rommel Vital, and Cpl. Romeo Encarnacion Guerrero Jr.
“Pinapahanap ko na ngayon ‘yung kaso kung nasaan na (I have asked my men to track the case and update me on its status,” Gamboa said, adding he will review the case and act accordingly on the IAS recommendation.
“So, ngayon na meron na akong powers ng chief PNP puwede ko na siyang i-review and rest assured, abugado naman ako, baka matingnan natin nang maayos. Kaya rest assured sa publiko na wala itong bias (Now that I have [limited] powers of a PNP chief, I can review this case and rest assured that as a lawyer, I will review the case appropriately. I assure the public that this will be impartial),” Gamboa said.
Gamboa said he will check if the evidence presented for the summary dismissal of the four ninja cops were properly presented to avoid technicality.
“Kung hindi ka kuntento (If I am not contented) it has to undergo another kind of investigation. This time (it will be) appreciation ng mga (of) evidence or probably ibang (the case will be assigned to another) summary hearing officer,” he said.
“So just like in any other administrative cases, it’s always substantial evidence that an ordinary person would believe that in fact may katotohanan’ yung charge sa kanya. Ganun lang kasimple ang requirement ng administrative cases (So just like in any other administrative case, it’s always substantial evidence that an ordinary person will believe in, that in fact, there is truth to the charges leveled against him. That’s the simple requirement in an administrative case),” he added.
The four Antipolo policemen are among the 13 Pampanga ninja cops who carried out a dubious anti-narcotics raid on the house of a suspected high-profile Chinese drug lord in Mexico, Pampanga in November 2013.
The 13 rogue policemen were ordered dismissed in early 2014 after investigations showed that they faked their spot report on the operation, pilfered about 160 kilos of the confiscated shabu and accepted a P50 million bribe to allow the suspect to escape.
The dismissal order was never carried out, allegedly after former PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde “intervened” to stop its implementation. The erring police officers were instead demoted by one rank.
Gamboa said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has authorized him to perform the regular functions of the PNP chief except for appointing officials to permanent positions.
IAS director general Alfegar Triambulo has said the report recommending the dismissal of the four rogue cops has been transmitted to the Discipline and Law Order Division (DLOD) of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM), which will draft a copy of the IAS recommendation and transmit the same to the office of the PNP chief or, in this case, the PNP OIC.
The recommendation to dismiss the police officers stemmed from a complaint filed by a certain Arnold Gramaje Jr. who said seven members of the Antipolo City police office, which included the four ninja cops, stopped him last May 4 while on board his vehicle for an anti-illegal drugs check-point in barangay Inarawan, Antipolo City.
For fear of falling prey to police operation scams, Gramaje said he did not alight from his vehicle and instead sped away heading home, during which the cops reportedly fired at him. Gramaje said the police tailed him until he reached his house, trespassed and searched his residence, and carted away his and his children’s valuables amounting to P30,000.
Gramaje has filed four counts of grave misconduct and serious irregularities in the performance of duty, and conduct unbecoming of an officer against the seven cops before the IAS in Camp Crame.
Criminal cases of attempted murder, robbery, and planting of evidence have been filed before the Antipolo City Regional Trial Court.
Gamboa said President Duterte’s expressed disappointment over the ninja cops issue is a big challenge to his leadership.
“It’s a challenge on my leadership dahil OIC ako, that I should do something about the impression of the President. It should take upon me, dapat may initiative kung ano ang dapat kong gawin at pine-prepare ko ‘yan (It’s a challenge on my leadership because I am the OIC. I should do something about the impression of the President. I should have the initiative and do something, and I am preparing for that),” Gamboa said.
Gamboa expressed his dismay during the command conference in Malacañang on Tuesday night.
To assuage the President’s feelings, Gamboa said he will hold an evaluative conference this week to determine the performance of his commanders, and a command conference next week.
Gamboa earlier said he will present before the media the PNP accomplishments in connection with the campaign against rogue officers.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said they understand the sentiments of the President.
“Tinatanaw namin ito na isang hamon para sa buong hanay para sa pagbabago at makaka-asa ang ating mga kababayan na ang PNP ay magpapatuloy sa paglilingkod (We look at this as a big challenge to us for us to further improve. Our countrymen can expect that the PNP will continue to perform its mandate),” Banac said.
NOT ALBAYALDE’S LAWYER
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, yesterday shot back at Sen. Richard Gordon for telling him to stop speaking on behalf of the embattled Albayalde.
Panelo said he was not lawyering for Albayalde but merely emphasizing that the conclusion of a person’s guilt cannot be determined until an investigation is already completed.
He said he merely shared his observations and opinion on the Senate proceedings as a “lawyer” himself.
Gordon had chided Panelo after the spokesman said that testimonies against Albayalde made during the Senate hearings should be considered as mere “hearsay” which cannot hold water when presented in courts.
Panelo likewise took an exemption to Gordon’s claim that administrative charges can still be filed against Albayalde even after his resignation as PNP chief.
“It is unfortunate that the honest and objective observation by this representation on the ongoing investigation of the Senate blue ribbon committee has been described by Sen. Gordon as lawyering for the embattled (Albayalde). My statement… was an honest assessment of a public proceeding and was an exercise of the freedom of speech for which every Filipino citizen is entitled,” Panelo said.
He added that under the law, due process must be observed, even in legislative inquiries.
He said investigation should be completed first before a person is judged as guilty and not while the probe is still ongoing.
Panelo also said that his opinion cannot and should not be viewed as a challenge or affront to the Senate blue ribbon committee, its chairmanship or its present investigation.
“With due respect to everyone concerned, fairness should, and must always be, the hallmark of a legislative inquiry. The constitutional rights of any resource person must be respected at all times, and on all accounts. That is what due process is all about,” he added.
Albayalde stepped down as chief of the Philippine National Police after his name was dragged in the ‘agaw –bato’ scheme that was perpetrated by the Pampanga ninja cops in 2013.
Albayalde was accused of supposedly attempting to “block” the implementation of the dismissal orders against the 13 rogue policemen who were involved in the shady operation.
Albayalde’s resignation came just weeks away from his formal retirement on November 8.
Panelo said the President has yet to announce who would replace Albayalde. – With Jocelyn Montemayor