Acop insists PNP’s messy operations to blame for weak case vs Mayo
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the irregularities in its operations — not the House of Representatives — are to blame for the weak case against dismissed Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo.
Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, a retired police general, addressed this comment to the former chief of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG), Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo, on Wednesday after the hearing of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
At that hearing, lawmakers learned that a different police officer was named as the one who arrested Mayo — not the officers who were first reported as doing so.
Mayo was arrested on Oct. 8, 2022, in a buy-bust operation that eventually led to the discovery of 990 kilograms of crystal meth, locally called shabu, worth P6.7 billion in his WPD Lending Office in Tondo, Manila.
‘Surrounded by fools’
“General Domingo, these details are coming out now. That’s why we’re not the reason for your losing the case against Sergeant Mayo.” Acop said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“That was your statement — that you might lose because of these hearings we conducted. No, you would lose because you’re weak. That’s the truth. You cannot investigate properly. Think of it: You have an arresting officer who did not conduct the arrest. Is that not a mockery? Is that the proper protocol, General Domingo?” he went on.
In response, Domingo said: “Unfortunately, Your Honor, when I arrived at PDEG I did not bring anyone except drivers and security men. I didn’t know that I was already surrounded by fools, Your Honors.”
Domingo got Acop’s ire during the hearing last April 26 after he warned that a public discussion on the case might lead to Mayo walking out free.
In response, Acop said that the House hearing should not be blamed for the inconsistencies.
Prior to this part of Wednesday’s hearing, it was revealed that a different officer was the one who filed cases against Mayo.
It was not Capt. Jonathan Sosongco, as originally reported, but Capt. Randolph Piñon. Both were team leaders of the Special Operations Unit of the Calabarzon Police Regional Office (SOU 4-A).
But Acop and Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who chairs the committee, were unconvinced that Piñon was the arresting officer, especially when the latter admitted that he was not part of pre-operation planning and that he arrived at the scene after 4:00 p.m.
Acop then came to the conclusion that the supposed hot pursuit operation was only a plan hatched during a hastily-called meeting, as Mayo was already under Sosongco’s custody at 1:00 p.m.
Domingo eventually said that it appeared that there was “Divine Providence” in the revelation of the drug problem in the PNP, to give the country a chance to weed out those bad eggs in the force.
“It is providential, Your Honor, God allowed this to happen so that, once and for all, the PNP would have the chance to identify who are really the members of the drug syndicate operating in the country, Your Honors. And it is now or never, Your Honors. If we do not nab this syndicate in the PNP, we may not have another chance,” Domingo said.
But Acop said that it seemed the drug menace had already spread down to even the lower-ranking officers, as shown in the hearing of another House panel — the Committee on Public Order and Safety.
Acop and Santa Rosa Rep. Dan Fernandez, along with other lawmakers, are probing the issue of anti-drug operatives in Antipolo abducting drug suspects and conducting a “controlled” buy-bust operation at a different place and time.
“The problem of illegal drugs is no longer concentrated on third-level officers. We have been investigating an issue at the Committee on Public Order and Safety […] and it seems wrongdoing is at the ground level. What you did to Sergeant Mayo, they are doing it to ordinary people,” Acop said.
“They’re committing crimes to come up with accomplishments […] As I see it, when we investigated officers also from Region 4-A’s Regional Drug Enforcement Group, the chairman, Dan Fernandez, and I — we received messages and letters telling us that the same thing happened to them, from all places of this county,” he added.
The House and the Senate are probing the inconsistencies in the arrest of Mayo and the possibility that the seized shabu was about to be recycled. Lawmakers are wondering why Mayo, a police officer, could have access to a bigger drug stash compared to drug lords.