Advertisements

Ninja cops issue turns uglier

That the so-called “ninja cops” from the Pampanga Provincial Police Office who faked a drug bust and made away with hundreds of millions of pesos worth of shabu are guilty is beyond question at this time. Even the reduction of the penalty in the administrative case from dismissal to demotion did not change the conclusion that these police officers committed grave misconduct.

The one big issue now is the revelation that PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde had asked a fellow general three years ago to tread softly on the case which was then undergoing review of the motion for reconsideration. Albayalde was looking after the welfare of his men. He didn’t want them dismissed no matter how grave their offense was.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Albayalde, who was Pampanga OIC-PD at the time, was fully aware of his men’s actions on November 29, 2013. No intelligence officer would dare embark on such an enterprise without informing his commander. Albayalde knew who the target was, and what his men were about to do. Everything came with his stamp of approval.

Now, Albayalde is PNP Chief. His men are occupying key positions in Central Luzon, albeit with one rank lower. It’s clear he condoned the actions of his men. Instead of giving them hardship assignments, he rewarded them. In effect, he didn’t just allow his men to recycle drugs and thereby make huge profits from this activity. He pampered them afterwards.

It took the bravery of former CIDG Chief Benjamin Magalong for these facts to come to the surface. And it incensed Albayalde. He made it appear that Magalong had ulterior motives in coming out into the open along with PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino. Magalong has reported that he has received death threats. It’s becoming a bitter word war that might spill out into something violent.

Albayalde is clinging to his post when the Honor Code would tell him he should resign. In other countries, being caught in that situation even lead the officials involved to commit suicide. We still remember General Angelo Reyes who took his own life than live in shame.

In case Albayalde hasn’t noticed, Filipinos are now looking at him with suspicion, if not contempt. In this face-off, I can bet that majority of Filipinos are on the side of Magalong.

Advertisements

Disgraceful, dishonorable conduct

No amount of explaining on the part of P/Director General Oscar Albayalde can justify his conduct (or misconduct) in making a phone call to then Police Regional Director Aaron Aquino of the PRO3 sometime in July 2016.

At that time, Albayalde was the NCRPO Director, the jumping off point to become PNP chief, a post he ultimately got last year. While a junior to Aquino at the PMA, Albayalde already wielded clout, and his phone call certainly helped postpone action on the dismissal of the so-called “ninja cops” of Pampanga.

It was wrong. It was improper. It was disgraceful.

Clearly, Albayalde had no other motive but to help his former subordinates when he was Provincial Director of the Pampanga Provincial Police Office hurdle their case.

In November 2014, then PRO3 Regional Director Raul Petrasanta ordered the dismissal of P/Supt. Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV and 13 other PNP officers in connection with the fake buy-bust on a Chinese national in Mexico, Pampanga.

Investigators discovered that there was no buy-bust. What happened was that Baloyo and his team barged into the residence of a Korean national named Johnson Lee without a search warrant. Lee was able to jump over the fence and surrendered to barangay officials.

Baloyo was the intelligence officer of the Pampanga PNP at the time, a very powerful position.

Baloyo had entered Alibaba’s cave: inside were an estimated 200 kilos of shabu and P55 million. Instead of arresting Lee, Baloyo made a deal with him. Lee would be set free in exchange for P50 million that was in the house. A Toyota Fortuner was to go along with the package.

To make a show of a huge accomplishment, Baloyo reported recovering 38 kilos of shabu and P300,000 in cash.

The show was poorly scripted. It didn’t take long for PNP investigators to establish a trail of lies Baloyo had left behind.

What is clear is that these police officers had committed grave infractions of the law, not just PNP rules and regulations. And based on evidence, they were ordered dismissed.

Somehow, the order of dismissal took so long to be served upon them. The order was signed in November 2014. It was served on them on March 2, 2016. A motion for reconsideration was filed on March 14, 2016.

The MR was pending resolution when Aquino, now PDEA chief, assumed as PRO3 Regional Director. It was then that he got a phone call from Albayalde. The tone of the message was for Aquino to “review” the case. It was an unmistakable request to go softly on the case. When Aquino asked the reason for the request, Albayalde replied: “Mga tauhan ko yan.”

It took another year before the case was resolved, this time by Regional Director Amado Corpuz. The penalty was reduced to demotion by one rank. The Senators found it hard to believe this twist of fate. But it was revealed that Corpuz was the PMA classmate of Albayalde.

It was crystal clear for everybody involved in the investigation that Baloyo and his men had committed a very, very grave offense. Worse, it involved drugs. It came at a time when President Duterte was building on his war versus drugs. And yet here was Albayalde trying to extricate his men involved in a drug deal from their predicament.

I agree with Senator Dick Gordon: Albayalde should resign as PNP chief. His credibility has been tarnished. For his position, that is enough reason to bow out of the office. That’s if he understands what honor and integrity mean.

What? Only one Iloilo City barangay captain in PDEA/DILG narcolist?

The disclosure made by the DILG and PDEA of the 207 barangay officials involved in illegal drugs left many Ilonggos shaking their heads in disbelief. That’s because the three most prominent barangay captains linked to the illegal drugs trade are not on the list. Only one — Barangay Captain Gemma Calzado of Kasing-kasing, Molo — was included in the list. All in all, the DILG and PDEA listed only 90 barangay captains from all over the country as being involved in illegal drugs, either as protectors or in the illicit trade itself.

What happened to Remia Prevendido-Gregori of Bakhaw, Dabing Espinosa of Monica-Blumentritt and Noemi Hablo of Desamparados? To this date, Barangay Bakhaw continues to be the hotbed of the illegal drugs trade in Iloilo City. Gregori is the sister of the slain drug group leader Richard Prevendido. Her son, Bonifacio, is in jail for being a drug dealer.

Dabing Espinosa is the wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, reputed to be the right-hand man of Melvin “Boyet” Odicta who was gunned down with his wife, Miriam, at the Caticlan port in Malay, Aklan on August 29, 2016. His house was raided by the police in October 2016; drugs and firearms were found in his house. Surprisingly, no charges were filed against Dabing despite the fact that the house is conjugal, and she was the incumbent barangay captain. Jing Jing surrendered to the court the next month to start serving an 8-year prison sentence for a crime he had committed several years ago.

Noemi Hablo had even admitted having undergone drug rehabilitation. Her late husband, Rusty, was a known illegal drugs dealer in Iloilo City.

Has the narcolist been sanitized? The DILG and PDEA could lose their credibility with this white-washed narcolist. It will put the drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte under a cloud of doubt. It raises the possibility that the President is being sabotaged by his own people.

Iloilo’s tres Marias

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to disclose to the public the names of 211 barangay captains who are allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade. I’m wondering if the three barangay captains in Iloilo City — all women — whose names have been linked to illegal drugs are included in the list. They are Keith “Dabing” Espinosa of Barangay Monica-Blumentritt, Remia Prevendido-Gregori of Barangay Bakhaw, and Noemi Hablo of Barangay Desamparados.

Espinosa is the wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, who is now serving a prison sentence for the shooting and wounding of an unarmed individual in his barangay more than a decade ago. Jing Jing was reputed to be a right hand man of the slain drug group leader Melvin “Boyet” Odicta, also known in Iloilo as “Dragon”.

Gregori is the sister of another drug group leader, Richard Prevendido, who was also killed in a police raid on Sept. 1, 2017. Her son, Bonifacio Gregori, is now in jail facing drugs charges. Her barangay is notorious as a lair for illegal drugs distribution.

Hablo’s deceased husband, Rusty, was a suspected drug peddler. He fled to Mindanao at the height of the tokhang operations of the police. But he was apprehended there in Mindanao; while in prison, he suffered from a nervous breakdown, and was reported to have committed suicide.

An enemy from within

There’s no mistaking the fact that the battle against illegal drugs is as difficult as repulsing a foreign invader, or even harder.
That’s because the enemy is hard to detect. The pusher is not just the street pug that was the stereotype in the past. Now even a public school teacher has been caught selling drugs. Barangay officials, too, have been nabbed in buy-bust operations. They are like the Vietcong whom the Americans had to fight half a century ago in the ricefields of Vietnam: by day ordinary farmers, by night fierce warriors.
We have to accept the reality that this battle can be waged in a rule of law setting. As we have seen time and again, drug lords and pushers can afford the best legal minds to defend them in court. And even in jail, they continue to run the illegal drugs trade with impunity.
For this alone, I am prepared to see President Duterte do it with brute force. Of course, he just has to be cautioned not to waste human lives. Just the same, the authorities should not hesitate to use force when it is deemed necessary.

Jing Jing Espinosa: “Vote straight T-M-E”

The cover photo of Jing Jing Espinosa’s wall displays the team poster of the Trenas-Mabilog-Espinosa ticket. He is the number one supporter and campaign funder of the Team Palagyo.

Drug violence in Iloilo City

The casual manner by which a lone gunman shot and killed 58-year old Dario Duran in front of the crowded Gaisano City Capital mall in Lapaz district of Iloilo City on Tuesday afternoon sent a loud message to the entire community that drug violence is escalating. Drug lords are now starting to quarrel for territory, and they don’t care about the Comelec gun ban to enforce their wills.

This murder case isn’t a rare occurrence in Iloilo City. There have been a number of murders that have been disguised as ordinary homicides, but were actually connected to drug syndicates carrying out punitive measures against those who cross the big bosses.

One prominent case was that of a former illegal gambling bet collector in Jaro district who was shot dead a few days after police arrested drug pushers aboard a taxi operated by a suspected drug lord in Iloilo City. This happened in November last year. The victim was rumored to have been the informant who tipped off the police about taxi drivers and bet collectors as shabu couriers. He had to pay with his dear life.

Police sources say drug syndicates have recruited almost every ex-convict returning from prison terms in Bilibid. They form the army of enforcers for the drug syndicates. For the elections, they are tasked to harass, intimidate and coerce leaders of the opposition to desist from their campaign activities. And the drug syndicates have shown, as what happened at the Gaisano Capital City mall, their men simply ignore the gun ban to carry out their violent measures to assert their rule.