DOJ summons 'agaw-bato' policemen

by Ina Reformina,

Posted at Apr 16 2014 01:16 PM | Updated as of Apr 16 2014 09:16 PM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has summoned the sacked chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Pampanga provincial office, along with 4 other policemen, to its preliminary investigation hearing into their alleged failure to account for and properly endorse illegal drugs seized during buy-bust operations, a modus operandi commonly known as "agaw-bato."

Summoned to appear before Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera on Monday is Chief Inspector Bienvenido Reydado, former Pampanga CIDG chief, who was arrested in March by his colleagues from CIDG Camp Crame, Senior Inspector Rommel de la Vega, SPO1 Rommel Raquipiso, Chief Inspector Arnulfo Ibanez, and PO2 Federico Casuple.

The complaint against them for violation of Sec. 27 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, pertaining to the criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the sources of illegal drugs and proceeds from the unlawful act committed, was filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) national headquarters in Camp Crame.

The complaint states that respondent policemen failed to report an illegal drugs buy-bust operation by the Pampanga Criminal Investigation and Detection Team (CIDT) dated Aug 28, 2013 in Pampanga whereby respondents "misappropriated, misapplied and failed to account for the confiscated methamphetamine hydrochloride" estimated to be more or less 50 kilos.

"After the supposed operation, the herein respondents maliciously and feloniously conspired with one another to appropriate for themselves the confiscated illegal drugs, as well as properties confiscated for their personal benefit and gain," the complaint read.

Reydado's group is allegedly involved in the "agaw-bato" modus operandi where they target Chinese drug traffickers. The group allegedly "negotiates" for the non-filing of charges against suspects they nab in drug "operations," and "recycles" the seized drugs.

For the subject Aug. 28 operation, respondents allegedly did not turn over any illegal drugs to the Crime Laboratory nor their head office.

"An investigation was conducted by CIDU, CIIDG to verify and prove the illegal activities by herein respondents. In view of the investigations conducted by CIDG, an Investigation Report detailing the illegal activities, as well as the overwhelming evidence to prove the commission of different offenses by herein respondents was prepared," the complaint read.

Search warrants

Simultaneous implementations of search warrants were conducted by joint elements of the CIDG, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) K-9, Pampanga Crime Laboratory, and Pampanga CIDG last March 3 at a compound in Angeles City and an unnumbered house in Balagtas, Bulacan against Reydado's group.

Seized during the search were "unlicensed firearms, vehicles, property documents, and cash amounting to P2.6 million."

The complaint pointed out that "all the confiscated items are proceeds of the illegal drug activities since respondent Reydado does not have such amount and properties" declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

The complaint was filed with the DOJ main office in Manila to avoid "undue influence, collusion and partiality that may be extended against respondents as a result of familiarity with the local (DOJ) prosecution office."