By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday vowed that it will conduct a thorough investigation on the alleged involvement of seven active and retired police officers in illegal activities after their inclusion in a drug matrix released by no less than President Duterte.
In a report dated Sept. 12, 2018 which was made public by Duterte in Malacanang Tuesday night, it named retired Senior Superintendents Eduardo Acierto and Leonardo Suan, former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) deputy chief for administration Supt. Ismael Fajardo Jr., Supt. Lorenzo Bacia, Inspectors Lito Pirote and Conrado Caragdag, and Senior Police Officer 4 Alejandro Gerardo Liwanag as the ones allegedly involved in a massive illegal drug trade and recycling in the country.
The report allegedly came from the intelligence community, Duterte said.
“[S]ince their names were given already to the public, definitely an investigation, not only counter-investigation, but an investigation will [be done to] look into that report,” Chief Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, said in Camp Crame.
The group allegedly recycled the illegal drugs they have seized in various operations of the PNP and PDEA.
Acierto, who was on top of the matrix, was one of the seven cops ordered dismissed by PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde in August 2018 after their alleged involvement in the anomalous issuance of AK-47 rifle licenses from 2011 to 2013 that supposedly ended up in the hands of New People’s Army rebels in Mindanao.
He was also said to be the mentor of Fajardo, who was then relieved in September 2018 as PDEA’s second highest official.
This is due to his alleged involvement in the P6.8-billion ‘shabu’ case that were suspectedly smuggled into the country after the discovery of four empty magnetic lifters in a warehouse in Cavite in August 2018.
The other active cops who have already been relieved since Monday were said to be assigned in the PNP-Drug Enforcement Group (DEG), Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU), Bicol Region and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Noong Monday pa lang na-mention niya na na-relieved na noong nagkaroon ng intel noise (Last Monday, he mentioned that he already relieved them when he caught up with the intelligence noise),” Durana said.
“General Albayalde tasked our intelligence community to look into this, then he got this information and immediately gumawa ng (we created) counter measures to prevent the impression that we are coddling our own,” he added.
“There are a lot of ways to monitor their activities. The moment they were relieved and taken from sensitive positions, inatasan na ng pamunuan ‘yung territorial [units] (the management assigned the territorial units [to monitor them]) while the investigation is on-going,” Durana explained.
However, the PNP spokesperson said they have yet to validate the report before filing charges against the implicated cops.
“We are not in a position to say they are really involved, there are association and there are intelligence report, counter intelligence report, derogatory report that may create an impression that they may have gone overboard,” Durana admitted.
“This investigation will give them due process. Since an intelligence information is inadmissible in court, definitely a case build-up and thorough investigation is in motion right after we relieved [them] based on the order of Chief Albayalde,” he added.