By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
“High-level” officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been involved in the alleged recycling of confiscated illegal drugs, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Friday referring to the issue brought up by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in a Senate executive session.
Sotto disclosed this to reporters when asked about the Senate justice and human rights committee’s executive session with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Thursday, (September 19) on the sidelines of the inquiry on the corruption issues in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
In the executive session with Sotto were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and justice committee head Senator Richard Gordon.
While the information gathered in the closed-door meeting are strictly confidential, Sotto said the issues brought up by the former PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director were connected to drug recycling.
Magalong’s revelations, as Sotto described, were “medyo mabigat (quite significant).”
Magalong, during the justice committee’s hearing Thursday, said that the CIDG in his helm found that rogue elements of the PNP, including those from his unit, were part of the so-called “agaw-bato” scheme wherein they keep part of the seized illegal drugs and declare only a few as evidence in courts.
The undeclared illegal drugs were then sold anew to the market, he told senators.
Magalong requested for an executive session with senators when he was asked to identify the rogue cops.
Sotto refused to divulge the ranks of the PNP members named by Magalong, but said they are high-ranking officials who are “either directly involved or they knew about” the modus.
“Basta high-level (They are high-level officials),” he said.
Asked if the involved cops are active in the PNP, he answered, “Sa kwento niya (Magalong), meron high-level officials noon na involved, pero ‘yong iba wala na ngayon. Pero meron pang nasa serbisyo, (In his narration, there were high-level officials who were involved, but some are no longer active. But there are others who are still in service).”
He admitted knowing “one or two” of the people identified by the Baguio mayor.
Sotto said senators will discuss Magalong’s expose in a caucus to determine their next actions since it is not anymore part of the probe on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) mess in the BuCor.
Executive sessions are held in Senate whenever a senator moves for it or when the security of the State or public interest requires.
Under the chamber’s rules, a vote of the two-thirds of the Senate’s members is needed to lift the secrecy.