MANILA — A supposed organization of rogue police officers involved in illegal drugs is already a “thing of the past,” the police leadership has told President Rodrigo Duterte.
But while this group of so-called “ninja cops” allegedly no longer exists, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there are still “police scalawags” that pose a “serious” problem to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
According to Panelo, PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde informed President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday night that the syndicate was dismantled under former police chief and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
“He (Albayalde) told him about the so-called ninja cops syndicate and revealed to the President that that ninja cops syndicate is a thing of the past – that happened during the previous years of the previous administration,” Panelo said on Thursday.
“What we have are police scalawags. He (Albayalde) told the President that he has precisely undertaken measures and operations, and those operations yielded 124 policemen killed during entrapment operations and so many policemen arrested.”
Former police official-turned-Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong earlier told lawmakers that a “high-ranking” police official was allegedly protecting subordinates engaged in illegal-narcotics activities.
Magalong, a former chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, accused several Pampanga police officers of recycling drugs in 2007, when Albayalde was the provincial chief. He identified 22 police officers involved in the resale of illegal drugs in a Senate executive session.
Asked how accurate Albayalde’s report is to the President, Panelo said he believes in the police chief since he has “developed a reputation for a man of integrity.”
“Iyon ang reputasyon niya kahit na hindi pa siya chief, naririnig ko na ang kanyang character,” Panelo said.
(That's his reputation even before he became chief, I've heard of his character.)
But Panelo assured the public that Duterte would sack Albayalde or any other police official if they are proven to be involved in illicit narcotics.
“Kahit na sino’ng kasama, kapag involved, tatanggalin ni Presidente iyon. Hindi lang tatanggalin, may criminal prosecution. Kumabaga, walang sinasanto ang administrasyon ni Presidente. No sacred cow, paulit-ulit nang sinasabi ni Presidente iyon,” he said.
(The President will not only fire anyone involved in illegal activities, but a criminal prosecution will be initiated. There are no sacred cows, and the President has said this repeatedly.)
Albayalde's meeting with Duterte came after the President on Wednesday night warned “ninja cops” who think that they are “lords of the country” whenever they get away with crime.
“But there are some people, like policemen, you have to beg then they arrest. At it again, and they sell drugs and they go scot-free and they think that they are the lords of this country,” he said before a group of Chinese businessmen in Parañaque City.
“Well, I’m sorry to tell you, everybody dies in this world but you will go ahead first. Remember that.”