MANILA (2ND UPDATE) - An officer of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP CIDG) and 6 civilian assets have been arrested for engaging in a scheme where they arrest Chinese drug traffickers and set them free after getting their drugs and money.
Police Chief Inspector Bienvenido Reydado, head of Pampanga CIDG, and the 6 other civilians were arrested in a raid on the CIDG office in Pampanga on Monday.
PNP Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong, acting director of the CIDG, said Reydado was one of the leaders of what they now call the "Agaw Bato" group -- a syndicate that conducts raids and arrests on Chinese drug groups under the guise of official CIDG duties, but will then seize the firearms and shabu for themselves.
The "Agaw Bato" group will then negotiate with the drug groups for their release.
"Bato" is street lingo for shabu.
"Ang ginagawa nila dito ay hinuhuli nila yung mga Chinese drug traffickers, kukunin nila yung drugs, kukunin nila yung pera and at the same time, papakawalan nila. Ine-negotiate nila,
papakawalan nila yung mga drug traffickers. Kukunin nila yung mga drugs at ibebenta nila," Magalong said.
The CIDG, along with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), conducted simultaneous raids on the provincial CIDG office in Pampanga as well as a known safehouse in Barangay Panginay, Balagtas, Bulacan.
The six civilian agents arrested were supposedly working for the regional CIDG. Some of them, however, have been found to possess criminal records.
They were identified as:
Adriano M. Laurete a.k.a. Ambo;
Arnold Sanggalan a.k.a. Arnold;
Eric Reydado, a cousin of Bienvenido Reydado;
another Adriano Laurete a.k.a. Andy a.k.a. Eric; and
Pedrito Tadeo a.k.a. Pepot.
Arrested in the Bulacan safehouse was Edwardson Sisracon, who was tagged by the CIDG as the number 2 most wanted man in Naic, Cavite.
Recovered from both raids were 5 high-powered firearms, 11 pistols, a rifle grenade, assorted magazines and loose bullets.
Also recovered were 5 SUVs, 2 motorcycles, and P2 million in cash bundles, found in a vault believed by the CIDG to have been storing illegal drugs.
Of all the firearms recovered, only 3 are registered. One pistol is registered to Reydado. Two M-16 rifles are also registered to Reydado, but have the same serial number, indicating that they have been tampered with.
The rest are considered loose firearms.
Magalong said the chief of the Region 3 CIDG, Police Senior Superintendent Vic Valencia, has been relieved of his duties by virtue of command responsibility.
Reydado, meanwhile, is in custody pending investigation into his case. The six civilians are also detained with Reydado in the CIDG Anti-Organized Crime Division.
Magalong said they had been monitoring the group's activities since early January. They believe the group has been operating since August of last year.
Reydado was formerly part of the PDEA. He was once charged for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, but the case was dismissed before he joined the CIDG.
Four mobile phones were also seized during the raid.
Police Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo of the CIDG said one of these contained a text message that said: "Itago niyo yung mga baril, parating na sila." It was an unknown number.
Reydado's deputy Police Senior Inspector Romel dela Vega is included in the arrest warrant, but was not caught because he is in schooling abroad.
The group will be charged with violation of Presidential Decree 1866 as amended by RA 8294 and RA 9165.
Reydado will be charged with illegal possession of firearms, infidelity in custody of prisoners, drug trafficking, and graft. He will also face administrative charges.
Meanwhile, the head of Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation Task Group (PAIDSOTG) and 11 of his personnel have been suspended for 90 days, pending relief and summary dismissal proceedings, for allegedly engaging in “Agaw Bato” operations in the province.
Police Regional Office 3 head Chief Supt. Raul Delfin Petrasanta ordered the suspension of Sr. Insp. Joven B de Guzman, head of the Pampanga PAIDSOTG and 11 personnel for alleged irregularities in the conduct of an anti-illegal drugs operation in Pampanga last year.
On November 29, 2013, members of the PAIDSOTG confiscated some 36.681 kilos of shabu worth P185 million from a drug bust, involving Chinese national Ding Wengkun, in Mexico, Pampanga. It was considered one of the PNP-Pampanga’s biggest accomplishments in 2013.
However, after thorough validation, it was discovered that other pieces of evidence from the drug bust were not properly declared and not included in the list of seized evidence, Petrasanta said.
According to Petrasanta, he also ordered the filing of an administrative case against Supt. Rodney Raymond Louie J. Baloyo IV, who was then the chief of the Pampanga Intelligence Branch, for command responsibility. The PAIDSOTG is under the command of the PIB. -- with a report from Trisha Mostoles, ABS-CBN News Pampanga