MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—The Senate has given its Blue Ribbon Committee the green light to make public the identities of "ninja cops" who allegedly "recycle" illegal drugs that are seized in police operations.
Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto said the plenary voted 17-0, in favor of releasing the names of the rogue cops involved in the so-called "Agaw-bato" scheme, in which cops allegedly sell the illegal drugs they seized in narcotics operations.
Of 87 policemen previously suspected of ties to the narcotics trade, only 7 remained under watch, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde earlier said.
The names and information were gathered during the Blue Ribbon and Justice Committees executive session last week with a retired top police official, who submitted the names of the ninja cops to the Senate.
During that session, PNP official-turned-Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong told lawmakers that a "high-ranking" police official was allegedly protecting subordinates engaged in drug activities.
Magalong, former chief of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, accused several Pampanga policemen of recycling drugs back in 2007, when Albayalde was still the province's chief.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the consolidation of names of cops allegedly involved in the reselling of seized illegal drugs.
Go said Duterte was furious after learning that bad eggs remain among the ranks of the police, more than 3 years after the government launched a relentless campaign against the illegal drug trade.
“Soon I think he would personally announce. Importante po si pangulo magsasabi (It’s important that he announces it),” Go told reporters.
Duterte has punished several erring ops, sending some of them to far-flung areas. He has also raised bounties on cops involved in the illegal drug trade.
But the cleansing of the police force seems to have hit a stumbling block with the revelation of the involvement of some cops in the drug trade.
PNP spokesman Bernard Banac said the police force was amenable if the Senate wanted to disclose the names of those involved.
"We request, however that the Senate exercise due diligence in protecting the rights of these persons against undue persecution," he said.
"The PNP only has the best interest of justice, fairness and good governance in uncovering the truth behind the alleged involvement of cops in recycling drug evidence," Banac added.—With reports from Ina Reformina and Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News