Senate denies request to transfer alleged 'ninja cop' leader to Pampanga jail

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2020 03:04 PM

Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo attends a Senate hearing in Pasay City, October 01, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has rejected a petition from Pampanga police officials for the custody of Police Maj. Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV, the alleged leader "ninja cops" tagged in an anomalous 2013 drug operation, Sen. Richard Gordon said Wednesday.

Pampanga police sent the request for Baloyo's transfer to the Bureau of Corrections, saying the detained official needs to participate in a hearing, but the national penitentiary sought the Senate's advice before heeding the petition, Gordon told reporters in an online briefing.

"He will not be released. This is a collective decision of the Blue Ribbon Committee," he said.

Gordon said he is not privy to the nature of Baloyo's alleged case in Pampanga, but noted that senators are wary that the transfer might be a plot to free the police official who allegedly led several Pampanga policemen in the resale of seized illegal drugs.

"We have to be careful with this guy... Siya nakakaalam lahat [tungkol sa Pampanga ninja cops]," he said.

(We have to be careful with this guy... He is the one who knows everything.)

"Baloyo is from Pampanga and the cases occurred in Pampanga... Baka kunyari ide-detain siya sa police department tapos mahihirapan na ibalik dito," he said.

(It is possible that they will make it appear that he is detained in the Pampanga police department, but will make it difficult for us to bring him back here in Manila.)

Baloyo has been held at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City since last year after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee cited him in contempt for his flip-flopping statements about a 2013 drug raid.

Baloyo led a police team accused of making off with some 160 kilograms of shabu worth around P648 million following an anti-drug operation against alleged Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.

His team allegedly set Lee free and presented another Chinese, identified in reports as Ding Wengkun, in exchange for P50 million.

Former PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde stepped down from his post earlier than his scheduled retirement last year after he was tagged in the incident. At the time of the controversial raid, he was the cops' chief at the Pampanga police office.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson moved to cite Baloyo in contempt after he testified under oath that he asked PO2 Anthony Lacsamana to scout the area of operation, but Lacsamana denied carrying out the task. 

If Baloyo has to participate in a trial, he can do so via videoconferencing, Gordon said, noting that courts have adjusted their rules on proceedings to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Baloyo will only be released from detention once the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee submits a full report about the "ninja cops" from the 2013 raid, the senator said.