Acop rebukes ex-PDEG chief for claiming House hearing may influence cases vs Mayo
MANILA, Philippines — Antipolo 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop has admonished the relieved Philippine National Police (PNP) Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEG) head for warning that the congressional hearing could impact cases against Mst. Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo, who was caught with at least 990 kilograms of shabu.
During the House of Representatives committee hearing on dangerous drugs last Wednesday, former PDEG chief Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo was allowed to present his side of the story. The hearing focused on the buy-bust operation in October 2022, during which a staggering P6.7 billion worth of shabu was seized from an alleged lending firm owned by Mayo.
In his speech, Domingo lamented that the investigations had shifted their focus from the buy-bust operation involving Mayo toward the accusations that he and other officials supposedly tried to cover up the arrest.
Domingo also expressed concerns that the hearing may affect the case against Mayo before the courts, given that police officers involved in the operation have given different accounts of the incident.
“I’m afraid your honors that the drug syndicates who are actually holds this 1.032 tons, and who are still with the PNP, succeeded in redirecting the course of investigation, which as they [saw] it was already going to them, they made some strategies that in the course of investigation will make a complete U-turn. Now it is now directed to General Domingo,” he said.
“For the record, Mr. Chair, I’m very sad that earlier, the timeline as discussed in this particular operation was discussed openly, I am afraid our… the biggest drug haul so far of the government now pending in court will be dismissed, and one morning we will wake up looking at Sgt. Mayo going out of jail because of this proceedings,” he added.
However, Acop reprimanded him, noting that it is never the fault of the House if the police officers give varying interpretations of the operations.
“Mr. Chair, may I object to the statement of the general? Na because of these proceedings, Sgt. Mayo will go free?” Acop said.
“No, it is because of what you did, not us. I take exception to that statement Mr. Chair, and let it be on record: hindi po kami sa proceeding na ito makaka-libre si Mayo. Do’n pa lang sa una, no’ng tinamper niyo ‘yong ebidensya na nando’n, that is, you have violated the chain of custody of evidence,” he added.
(No, it is because of what you did, not us. I take exception to that statement, Mr. Chair, and let it be on record: It’s not us in this proceedings which will make Mayo free. It’s you in the first place when you tampered with the evidence. That is, you have violated the chain of custody of evidence.)
Acop was referring to videos shown by Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., where different individuals were seen transferring bags believed to have contained the illegal substance.
At least 49 police officers have been charged for the supposed cover-up in the case of Mayo and the attempted pilferage of around 42 kilograms of the confiscated 990 kilograms of shabu.
The dispute in the drug operation’s timeline that Domingo pointed out stemmed from the statements of Calabarzon Special Operations Unit Col. Julian Olonan and operation team leader Capt. Randolph Sosongco. Olonan said that Sosongco informed him that Mayo’s accomplice, Ney Atadero, was nabbed around 1 p.m.
Sosongco maintained that the arrests were made at around 4 p.m.
There were also other glaring inconsistencies observed by the lawmakers, like Mayo being nabbed on October 8, but also being arrested the following day.
The buy-bust operation where Atadero and Mayo were arrested was the biggest drug haul conducted by the PNP. However, controversies quickly surrounded the case after Mayo — a PDEG intelligence operative himself — appeared to have been cited for past operations.
Abalos last April 10 said that there was a massive attempt to cover up the arrest of Mayo, with high-ranking officials being present during the arrest, supposedly discussing the fate of the arrested cop.
Domingo, however, assured that there was no cover-up, noting that they were only talking about the next operation where Mayo could be used to pinpoint other individuals involved in the drug trade.