By Jeffrey Damicog
Police Major Rodney Baloyo IV said the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) failed to present a key witness in the criminal complaint filed against him and his co-respondents concerning the questionable 2013 anti-illegal drugs operations in Mexico, Pampanga.
Because of this, Baloyo asked the special panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the complaint as he argued, among his many points, that the PNP-CIDG did not use as witness alleged Chinese drug trader Ding Wenkun and instead used a certain Neil Gernace whom the police official described as having only provided “double hearsay” testimony.
“The truth of the matter could have been laid to rest by the simple expedient of presenting Ding Wenkun as a witness himself, but the Complainant PNP-CIDG, for inexplicable and unjustifiable reasons, has consistently failed to present him before the Hon. Department of Justice ever since the inception of this Criminal Complaint, or since way back in the year 2014,” read Baloyo’s rejoinder.
In its amended complaint, the PNP-CIDG accused Baloyo of violating Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), particularly, Section 27 (failure to account for the seized drugs) of Article II, Section 29 (planting of evidence) of Article II, and Section 32 (violating regulations of the Dangerous Drugs Board) of Article II and Section 92 (delay and bungling of the prosecution of drug cases) of Article XI .
The complainant also accused Baloyo of two counts of violating Article 211-A (qualified bribery) and Article 171 (falsification) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The case concerns the 2013 illegal drugs operations in Mexico, Pampanga where members of the Provincial Anti-Illegal Drug and Special Operation Task Force (PAIDSOTF) led by Baloyo at that time seized around 200 kilograms of methamphethamine hydrochloride which is locally known as shabu, P55 million in cash and a Toyota Fortuner.
However, after the operation, the 13 policemen failed to account the confiscated items including around 160 kilograms of shabu and even failed to prosecute alleged foreign drug trader Johnson Lee.
The PNP-CIDG alleged in its complaint that “herein respondents,instead of filing a complaint against Johnson Lee, filed a complaint against Ding Wenkun, who they violently and illegally taken to replace Johnson Lee, and thereafter planted evidence against Wenkun and charged him…”
In his rejoinder, Baloyo said that the PNP-CIDG, for its failure to use Wenkun as witness, “tries to pass off the sworn statement of Neil Gernace as a substitute witness.”
“However, it is crystal clear that Gernace had no personal knowledge of the truth and veracity of what Ding Wenkun was supposedly saying, as Gernace was only admittedly present when Ding Wenkun executed his statement, and not during his actual arrest,” he pointed out.
Baloyo added that “Ding Wenkun made the statement in the Chinese language” and interpreted by “no less than an ‘inmate’ in the Pampanga Provincial Jail, in the person of Albert Chua.”
“Not only is this double hearsay evidence which cannot be the basis of any finding of probable cause, the credibility and reliability of the supposed translation could not be authenticated nor corroborated by Gernace or the Notary Public himself,” Baloyo stated.
The police official also denied allegations of conspiracy with his co-respondents in committing the offenses.
“Aside from the unsubstantiated, self-serving and bare allegation that I conspired with the other respondents, there is no proof that would collaborate the same,” he said.
Meanwhile, the DOJ special panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez concluded on Monday the conduct of the preliminary investigation of the PNP-CIDG’s complaint
The special panel has been conducting the preliminary investigation since October 8 after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the re-investigation of the complaint.
Prior Guevarra’s order, the PNP-CIDG filed a petition for review after the complaint was dismissed by another panel of prosecutors back in 2014 and was affirmed in 2017 by then Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.
“Thus, the present case should be dismissed outright. The above-captioned criminal complaint had been thoroughly and exhaustively resolved in 2014, and affirmed with finality by way of automatic review by the DOJ Prosecutor General. There is nothing more to be done than respect the actions of the DOJ Prosecutor General in his automatic review,” Baloyo argued in his rejoinder.
Baloyo also pointed out the conduct of the re-investigation violates his constitutional rights for the speedy disposition of cases.
“From 2014 until the present time, or more than five years thereafter, no action was taken on the case, other than the affirmation and approval of CPs Robles and Catalan, which affirmation, to my submission, is the final act of the automatic review process. If such was not the final act of the automatic review process, then my constitutional right to speedy disposition of my case is clearly being violated,” he said.
Aside from these, Baloyo also questioned the jurisdiction of the special panel led by Suarez in conducting the re-investigation since the Revised Manual for Prosecutors state that “a preliminary investigation may be re-opened only when the investigation is submitted for resolution but before the approval and promulgation of said resolution.”