‘No attempted cover-up’: PDEG chief heeds call to take leave over drug case
MANILA, Philippines — The head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) is heeding the call to take a leave of absence, despite denying cover-up attempts in last year’s arrest of Police Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo for drug involvement last year.
“We assure you that there was no attempted cover up here. ‘Yun man po ang iniisip ng karamihan na ang PDEG, kami ay nag cover-up sa pinagagawa ng mga tao namin, that is not true,” PDEG Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo said in a press conference held at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Tuesday.
(Most people assume, incorrectly, that we in PDEG hide the actions of our members.)
“We will comply with the order of DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Sec. Abalos and file our leave of absence right after this conference, but may I express my dismay that this is unfair on the part of those of us who just did our mandate and our part [on the campaign] against the illegal drugs,” Domingo added.
On April 10, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. urged 10 police officials to take a leave of absence after uncovering CCTV footage allegedly showing their alleged attempt to cover up the arrest of Mayo, eventually dismissed in March this year.
According to Domingo, after the cases were filed against the suspects, PDEG’s team assigned to Mayo’s case conducted a counter-intelligence operation by backtracking CCTV footage at the crime scene.
“Ironically, instead of identifying the cohorts of Mayo, we saw in the CCTV footage that some members of the operating team, yung team po na nakahuli sa 990, ay nag-puslit po ng mga bagahe palabas ng crime scene (the team that seized the 990 kilograms of shabu transferred bags out of the crime scene),” the PDEG director explained.
“We have reported this to the PNP and its command group; that’s why the chief PNP had created a Special Investigation Task Group 990,” he added.
Following the creation of the SITG 990, Domingo said that then-PNP Deputy Chief for Operations PLt. Gen Benjamin Santos personally directed him to back off from the case’s investigation since police officers under him were involved.
Moreover, Domingo said he received a memorandum from Atty. Alfegar M Triambulo, Inspector General of the PNP-Internal Affairs Service (IAS), instructed him to “cease and desist” from any further investigation.
“We have turned over all documents and evidence kasama na yung aming CCTV footage na narecover, as per the cohorts of mayo we have not identified only the SITG 990 can answer that dahil wala na kami sa investigation (because we are no longer in the investigation). Sumunod kami sa utos na tumigil kami sa sarili naming investigation (We obeyed the order to stop our own investigation),” Domingo said.
If they did not stop investigating, the PDEG director said they may have already identified and filed complaints against those involved with the case.
“Although there are minor lapses on our part during the actual operations, the fact remains that we seized the 990 kilos shabu and had it destructed by PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) in an incinerator at Trece Marites City, Cavite province last March 16,” Domingo stressed.
Based on the result of the investigation conducted by the Fact-Finding Board, Abalos said that Santos; Domingo; PDEG SOU 4A chief Col. Julian Olonan; PDEG SOU 4A Head Arrest Team Cpt. Jonathan S Sosongco (Head Arrest Team PDEG SOU AA); PDEG SOU NCR OIC Lt. Col. Amulfo G Ibañez (OIC, PDEG SOU NCR); PDEG SOU NCR Maj. Michael Angelo C. Salmingo; Quezon City Police District Lt. Col. Glenn C. Gonzales; PDEG Intelligence and Foreign Liaison Intelligence Officer Lt. Ashrap Amerol; Manla PO Moriones Station Commander Lt. Col. Harry Loronzo III; PDEG SOU 4A Intelligence Section chief Cpt. Randolph A Piñon were shown in the recordings.
Since Abalos believes additional police officers are involved in the investigation, he has given them until the end of the week to request a leave of absence, or they will be suspended.