Cop claims hearing PNP execs discuss how to clear Mayo from drug raps
MANILA, Philippines — A police officer from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) well-versed in anti-drug operations has claimed that he heard Philippine National Police officials discuss how to help Police Mst. Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo, the anti-narcotic operative arrested with 990 kilograms of shabu in October 2022.
Police Lt. Col. Glenn Gonzales told lawmakers from the House of Representatives’ committee on dangerous drugs on Wednesday that relieved Philippine National Police (PNP) Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) chief Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo, Calabarzon DEG Special Operations Unit (SOU) head Col. Julian Olonan, National Capital Region DEG officer-in-charge Lt. Col. Arnulfo Ibañez were part of the discussion
“Pagdating ko do’n sa WPD Lending sir, nakita ko po si sir Ibañez, sir Domingo, sir Olonan, nag-uusap po sir […] and Major [Michael Angelo] Salmingo […] ‘yon nga po sir, tama po ‘yong sinabi ni sir Ibañez, pinag-uusapan namin kung ano’ng dapat gawin kay Sgt. Mayo,” Gonzales said.
(Whe I arrived at the WPD Lending sir, I saw sir Ibañez, sir Domingo, sir Olonan, they were talking […] and Major [Michael Angelo] Salmingo […] that’s it sire, what sir Ibañez said is right, we were talking what to do with Sgt. Mayo.)
WPD Lending is the establishment in Tondo, Manila that was handled by Mayo. The 990 kilograms of shabu were found in the said office.
Gonzales said he hesitated to contest the decisions of the officials as they were his upperclassmen. He also said that he only found the courage to speak after then PNP Director for Operations Lt. Gen. Benjamin Santos Jr. arrived at the scene, and asked that Mayo be arrested already.
“Pero ‘yong succeeding kasi na nangyari sir, no’ng pinakawalan si Mayo, do’n po ako nag-isip na bakit pinakawalan si Mayo, I thought na kakasuhan pa rin si Mayo — tama sir ‘yong usapan namin sir na may follow-up operation sir, pero sir, hindi kasi ako makapag-comment sa kanila kasi mga senior ko nga po sila,” Gonzales said.
(When Mayo was released, I was thinking why Mayo was freed, I thought Mayo will be charged. What we were talking about was right, there would be a follow-up operation, but I cannot comment because they are all upperclassmen.)
“Ang sabi po nila sa akin hindi na nga po kakasuhan si Mayo. No’ng dumating si General Santos po sir, do’n po tumapang ‘yong loob ko na sabihin kay sir Domingo na ‘sir, pinapahuli na ni sir Santos si Sgt. Mayo, ilalabas na ba natin sir, ilalabas na ba natin ‘yong sasakyan?’ Ang sabi niya sa akin sir ‘hindi na kailangan, alam na po ni chief PNP,’” he added.
(They told me that Mayo will not be charged. When General Santos arrived, that was the time I had the courage to tell Domingo that General Santos wanted Sgt. Mayo arrested, are we going to bring this out, are we going to get the vehicle? He told me it was no longer needed, PNP chief knows it already.)
Mayo, himself an intelligence operative of PDEG, was arrested in a buy-bust operation last October 8. The operation has been shrouded in controversy ever since, as rumors of an alleged cover-up have been raised by key officials including Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.
Instead of being arrested, Mayo was seen without handcuffs — as shown in closed circuit television camera footage obtained shared during the House hearing and previous press conferences.
“Personally sir, siyempre nagulat ako, I thought na nag-start na ‘yong inventory kasi na-inform ako 2 p.m. pa lang eh, dumating ako do’n 4:30 na […] sinuggest ko sa kanila sir na kung pwede, kung tutulungan natin si Mayo — kasi pinag-uusapan nila sir kung ire-release si Mayo or kung ike-case filed ‘yong kaso ni Mayo — ‘yon nga po ‘yong intensyon ni sir Ibañez,” Gonzales claimed.
(Personally, I was shocked, I thought the inventory has started because I was informed as early as 2 p.m., I arrived there at 4:30, I suggested to them if possible, if we are going to help Mayo, because they were talking if they are going to release Mayo or a case will be filed, that was the intention of sir Ibañez.)
According to Gonzales, it was Ibañez who asked him to go to the scene of the operation, out of fear that the latter’s name might be dragged into Mayo’s activities.
“I was informed around 2:00 p.m., Lt. (Ashrap) Amerol called me […] he told me ‘sir na may nahuling tao nga po [someone was arrested], two kilos sir pero member po siya ng SOU-NCR sir.’ Do’n ko po nalaman na may nahuli [that was the time I learned someone was arrested], then I called sir Ibañez what happened, classmate ko kasi sir Ibañez sa ongoing training namin [Ibañez was my classmate in an ongoing training], I asked him, sir ‘yong tao mo yata may trabaho ba kayo, nahuli sir ng tropa [looks like your man, do you have an operation? Looks like he got arrested],” Gonzales said.
“Then sir Ibañez told me to call sir Olonan so that they could talk, ‘yon nga po, sir Olonan also informed me that malaki nga ‘yong nahuli […] Then around 4:00 p.m. I was called by sir Ibañez, he asked me na kung pwede pumunta ako doon sa lugar, sabi niya sa akin, ‘Glenn, hindi ko alam kung ano’ng nangyari, baka madamay ako dito. Baka pwede pag-usapan natin ito,” he added.
Olonan however denied that he, Ibañez, and Domingo were talking about freeing Mayo. The Calabarzon DEG chief said that it was actually Gonzales who pleaded to him to let Mayo go, as the reputation of the PNP and PDEG would be affected.
In response, Olonan claimed he told Gonzales the gravity of the offense, and ended the call.
“Your Honor, I do not know the intention of Lt. Col. Gonzales to pin down General Domingo. Ang totoo po niyan [To tell you the truth] your Honor, on my record, 2 p.m. nasa Skyway ako, I’m traveling — I received a call from Lt. Col. Gonzales sabi niya ‘sir, nag-usap na ba kayo ni sir Ibañez tungkol kay Mayo? Pagbigyan mo na sir, masisira na naman ang PNP at PDEG [he told me if Ibañez and I talked about Mayo? Give them a break, the reputation of the PNP and PDEG will be ruined],’” Olonan said.
“At sinagot ko siya: ‘Alam mo ba Glenn kung gaano karaming shabu ang nakuha?’ And he replied: ‘Yes sir alam ko trabaho namin ‘yon.’ At binabaan ko siya ng telepono And I told him: You know, Glenn, how much shabu had been confiscated? And he replied: Yes sir I know, it was our operation. And that was the time I hang up the phone on him],” he added.
Olonan also asserted that it was Gonzales who called him — and not the other way around. He also said that the discussions were only about the follow up operation that they were planning to do in Pasig City.
“Pagbaba ko ng [when I exited] Skyway, again your Honor, 3:07 p.m., then I am near New Manila, I received another call from Lt. Col. Gonzales, he asked me again the same thing […] Oo sabi ko, may binibigay na trabaho, pupunta raw siya sa Tondo, malaking trabaho daw. Kanina napakinggan ko kasi ako raw ang tumawag sa kanya. It’s not true your Honor, at hindi kami dumating sa usapan na pagbibigyan si Mayo your Honor — ang pinag-uusapan lang namin doon, follow-up operations [I said yes there’s an operation, he will go in Tondo, it was like a big operation. Earlier I heard that I was the one who called him. That’s not true your honor, and it never came to a point that Mayo will be off the hooks, what we are talking about was the follow-up operation],” he noted.
The House is conducting the hearing to determine what transpired during the operation hatched last October — in what was believed to be the biggest drug haul that the PNP has undertaken.
Controversies, however, 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 can be used to pinpoint other individuals involved in the drug trade.
After which, Domingo was relieved from his post, and was included in the 49 PNP officials and officers charged over the incident.