STILL stinging from President Duterte’s dismay and the disgrace caused by the “ninja cops” scandal to the entire police force, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday issued stricter guidelines on the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operation to prevent future “agaw-bato” incidents.
In an interview over dzMM, Gamboa said he has ordered ground commanders to observe more stringent measures that will prevent field operatives from recycling confiscated illegal drugs.
Field commanders are now required to secure search warrants from the courts before they can conduct any anti-narcotics operations. They should likewise be accompanied by civilian witnesses to deter the recycling of seized drugs.
Gamboa said operatives are discouraged from carrying out impromptu or rushed buy-bust operations, where witnesses are not required due to the urgency of the operation.
“(Ang) problema sa buy-bust kasi hindi ka naman puwede magsama ng sibilyan, una baka madisgrasya, pangalawa baka masunog ‘yung nag buy-bust (The problem with buy-bust operations is that operatives cannot tag along civilian-witnesses because they may get hurt or get killed when the operation goes awry; and second, the poseur-buyer may be burned and easily identified by the civilian-witness),” Gamboa said.
Gamboa said search warrants should target high value targets instead of small time drug dealers.
He said that another good thing about securing search warrants is that it ensures that the operation to be conducted is based on intensive intelligence information gathering as one will have to convince a judge before the warrant can be issued.
“Kaya sabi ko I would be more happy to see you serving SW although medyo ma-trabaho yung SW (That’s why I told my men that I would be more happy to see them serving search warrants although it may be more tedious to secure one),” Gamboa said.
Gamboa said another measure is for commanders to strictly supervise the inventory of seized items so field police operatives cannot keep a portion of the evidence to themselves for other purposes.
He said commanders must also conduct surprise barracks inspections of his men to determine if any one of them has been keeping illegal drugs from previous operations.
“So, doing all these things, surprise inspections and inventory ito ‘yung mga preventive measures that we can do para hindi magkaroon ng recycling. Pero primarily ibigay talaga dapat natin ang responsibility sa unit commanders, ‘yung immediate commander concerned doon sa nag-o-operate sa droga (Doing all these things, surprise inspections and inventory, are some of the preventive measures that we can do to prevent recycling. But this is still responsibility of the concerned immediate or unit commander involved in the anti-illegal drugs operations),” he added.
Gamboa also reminded his men of an existing policy that police officials must order the automatic review of dismissed drug cases to determine if there were lapses on the part of the policemen in filing the case.
“If we see that the cause of dismissal was due to the prosecutor, the judge, or witnesses not attending the hearings, then we can say that it is not the fault of the policemen. But if it was in the process of filing the case or if technical requirements in presenting evidence were not followed, the investigators on-case will be liable),” he said.
Gamboa said they will ask the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court to also put stricter safeguards on plea bargaining agreements since a big number of defendants plead guilty to a particular charge in exchange for a concession from prosecutors, then they go back to the streets and do their old illegal activities.
Meanwhile, Senate minority leader Francis Pangilinan yesterday said he believes there is strong evidence against ex-PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde who has been implicated in the drug complaint against the 13 Pampanga ninja cops involved in the bogus 2013 November drug raid on the house of suspected Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.
“Pipirma ako. I agree na talagang may pananagutan si Albayalde sa nangyari at sa halip na sagutin n’ya ang mga paratang sa kanya sabi n’ya pinupulitika siya, hindi nya sinasagot pero bakit pinagtakpan nya (I will sign the report. I agree that Albayalde should be held liable for the incident. Instead of answering the charges against him, he instead decried politics to skirt the issue),” Pangilinan said.
“I believe there is strong evidence,” he added. – With Ashzel Hachero