Cops grilled over drug raid in House hearing
MANILA, Philippines — Amid inconsistencies in the accounts of some police who are under investigation for alleged irregularities surrounding the seizure of P6.7 billion worth of “shabu” last year, lawmakers doubt that they are telling the truth.
Several representatives came to this conclusion following Wednesday’s seven-hour hearing held by the House dangerous drugs committee on the police raid conducted in Manila last year.
Some of the policemen invited as resource persons to the hearing initially refused to disclose what they knew about the drug haul, citing sub judice and the right against self-incrimination.
This prompted committee chair Rep. Robert Ace Barbers to stress that while they respected their right not to incriminate themselves, it was important to ferret out the truth.
Congressmen, however, noted inconsistencies in the statements of some policemen, particularly Capt. Jonathan Sosongco and Col. Julian Olonan, both of the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG).
Earlier, Sosongco refused to answer questions, citing his right against self-incrimination. But later on, he shared details about the drug raid on Oct. 8, 2022, in Manila that led to the arrest of now-dismissed Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo, whose office yielded 990 kilos of shabu, and the attempted pilfering of some of the confiscated drugs. At least 49 police were charged as a result.
Sosongco said the operation was done at around 4:45 p.m. that day, but Olonan said he received a call from Sosongco informing him about the successful operation shortly before 1 p.m.
Barbers also showed screenshots of surveillance footage which showed that Sosongco was seen escorting Mayo into his lending firm in Manila, where the drugs were found, at 1:39 p.m.
Other screenshots showed that Olonan and other police officials arrived past 3 p.m., way before the 4:45 p.m. time frame that Sosongco cited.
Barbers also noted Sosongco’s differing statements about the vault where the shabu was recovered. Sosongco initially said the vault was already open when they went inside the office, but later said it was closed but unlocked.
“Obviously there is a conflict [between your] and Olonan’s statements; that’s why we want to clarify. One of you is lying. You’re fooling your boss (Olonan). Who among you [is] telling this committee the truth? It’s easy to catch liars, and I guarantee you that it’s easier to tell the truth,” Barbers said.990 kilos of shabu
The House panel later agreed to the request of relieved PNP-DEG chief Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo for an executive session. Domingo was among several police officials who were relieved pending an investigation into their possible involvement in a cover-up of the alleged irregularities.
House transportation committee chair Rep. Romeo Acop, a retired police general, also questioned how Mayo was able to amass a stash of 990 kilos of shabu inside his office in Manila.Mayo, who attended the hearing online, refused to answer any question, invoking his right against self-incrimination.
“I don’t know if the PNP or the authorities are alarmed that a noncommissioned officer has in his possession one ton of illegal drugs. Doesn’t that make you wonder?” Acop said.
“In the case of Mayo, I don’t see any Chinese personality … Where did the drugs come from? I don’t know if the PNP is investigating this.”