12 more cops in drugs racket axed
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—The police chief in Central Luzon region has relieved the head of the Pampanga Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation Task Group and 11 other men, and ordered summary dismissal proceedings against them for irregularities in handling illegal drugs cases.
Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, regional police director, said the group allegedly took two pieces of luggage of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) without reporting these in the inventory of items seized in a raid last year where they also allowed a Chinese suspect to escape.
Petrasanta said the antidrug operations led by Senior Insp. Joven de Guzman on the rented house of Ding Wenkun in Mexico town on Nov. 29, 2013, was similar to the “agaw bato” (where illegal drugs seized from suspects are kept by policemen) racket ascribed to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Angeles City.
In Manila, Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, CIDG director, said at least two senior police officials and other police noncommissioned officers of the CIDG were also being linked to “agaw bato.” He, however, declined to identify them or their current assignment.
Investigators have noted that the operations are the same but they have yet to receive evidence that these cases are related, Petrasanta told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
Information reaching him said De Guzman’s superior, Supt. Rodney Baloyo, then head of the Pampanga Intelligence Branch, and Chief Insp. Bienvenido Reydado, CIDG chief in Pampanga, are classmates in the Philippine National Police Academy.
Petrasanta ordered the filing of an administrative case against Baloyo for command responsibility. The latter did not reply to a telephone call seeking his comment on the issue.
Reydado, arrested by the CIDG on Monday, told a local television station he was not engaged in the “agaw bato” scheme where policemen seized illegal drugs only to have these sold by civilians. In the same racket, policemen also get to earn millions of pesos by allowing suspects to elude arrest.
De Guzman and his men were placed under preventive suspension starting March 3. They were charged with dishonesty stemming from a drug bust where 37 kg of shabu were confiscated from Wenkun.
“They had no intention to report this raid to us,” Petrasanta said. “We only learned about it because of a commotion in the nearby village where the suspect fled,” he added.
Petrasanta said De Guzman and his men also did not report that they took a vault from the suspect’s house, noting that the certification of seized evidence was signed on Nov. 30. With a report from Marlon Ramos in Manila
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