MANILA -- (UPDATE) The Department of Justice (DOJ) will reopen its investigation into the case of the so-called "ninja cops" or policemen who recycle confiscated narcotics, its chief Menardo Guevarra said Sunday.
A new panel of state prosecutors will be formed to reinvestigate the issue, Guevarra said.
"In light of new evidence unfolding and in the interest of justice, DOJ will reopen the case of Baloyo, et al. and will create a new panel of state prosecutors to conduct reinvestigation," he said.
Guevarra was referring to the previous investigation on a team of Pampanga police officers led by then Supt. Rodney Baloyo that allegedly made off with some 160 kilograms of shabu worth around P648 million.
The drugs were seized in an anti-narcotics operation on alleged Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.
Former police official and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said he got a whiff of the allegedly anomalous anti-drug operation after getting word that several officers, including now Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde, started buying new SUVs.
Albayalde was the provincial chief of the Pampanga police when the drug sting happened in 2013.
"Both sides will be given ample opportunity to present additional evidence. We shall try to resolve in a month's time, considering that this automatic review has been pending since 2017," Guevarra said.
The police force, meanwhile, welcomed the reopening of the investigation and vowed that it is working to cleanse its ranks of crooked policemen.
"Nakahanda ang PNP na humarap sa anumang posibleng pagdinig o imbestigasyon na gagawin upang bigyan ng linaw ang ulat na may 2 pang heneral ang nananatiling may kaugnayan sa iligal na droga," it said in a statement.
(The PNP is ready to face any hearing or investigation to give light on reports that there are still 2 police generals with links to illegal drugs.)
"Ang lahat ng lalabag sa batas ay dapat mapanagot at hindi natin hahayaan na manatili ang mga tiwaling pulis sa ating hanay," it added.
(All those who violate the law should be held accountable and we would not allow crooked policemen to stay within our ranks.)
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to investigate the allegation against Albayalde and the so-called "ninja cops." The PNP is under the supervision of the DILG.
-report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News