DOJ forms new panel to probe âninja copsâ
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he would announce today the composition of the new panel of prosecutors who would take charge in reinvestigating the alleged illegal activities of Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo and his men.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo

DOJ forms new panel to probe ‘ninja cops’

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - October 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to form a new panel of prosecutors to conduct a reinvestigation into the 13 alleged “ninja cops” who reportedly carted away P650 million worth of shabu and cash during a drug raid in Pampanga in 2013, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday.

Guevarra said he would announce today the composition of the new panel of prosecutors who would take charge in reinvestigating the alleged illegal activities of Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo and his men.

“In the light of new evidence unfolding, and in the interest of justice, the DOJ will reopen the case of Baloyo, et al., and will create a new panel of state prosecutors to conduct the reinvestigation,” Guevarra said.

The justice chief assured all the parties concerned that the DOJ panel would be fair in its reinvestigation and all parties would be given the opportunity to air their sides on the issue.

“Both sides will be given ample opportunity to present additional evidence,” Guevarra said.

The DOJ is targeting to complete the reinvestigation by early next month.

“We shall try to resolve in a month’s time, considering that this automatic review has been pending since 2017,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra added that the reinvestigation would focus on the alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly Sections 27 (misappropriation), 29 (planting) and 32 (custody and disposition) that were dismissed in 2017. Dismissed drug complaints filed before the DOJ are subjected to automatic review.

In 2013, Baloyo and his men allegedly kept 160 kilograms of shabu, got P50 million and new sport utility vehicles in return for the release of alleged Chinese drug trafficker Johnson Lee.

The 13 policemen were supposed to have been relieved because of grave misconduct. Then Philippine National Police (PNP) - Central Luzon chief and current Criminal Investigation and Detective Group Maj. Gen. Amador Corpus, however, ordered their demotion instead and did not uphold their dismissal order in 2014.

Updated, modernized approach

Amid the controversies surrounding the alleged illegal activities of the so-called ninja cops, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there is a pressing need to update and modernize the government’s approach to stopping the continued operations of drug syndicates in the country.

Sotto believes the government has to level up and take extra steps to better handle the worsening situation at this time when the connection between illegal drugs operators and rogue police officers has been exposed.

“Despite the various measures currently in place to curtail this social ill, the war against it has not yet been won. Hence, the government is in continuous search for an effective and efficient means to somehow get us closer to victory,” he stressed when he filed Senate Bill (SB) 3.

“We need to work hand in hand so we may achieve a drug-free Philippines for future generations. There is no best time to cure this social ill than now,” he added.

SB 3 proposes the creation of a Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority “to further strengthen our fight against illegal drugs” and to give government sharper teeth in its fight against big-time illegal drugs peddlers and their cohorts in uniform, according to the senator.

The measure will unify the four major programs in the campaign against illegal drugs into a single government agency. It seeks to put in sync the enforcement, prosecution, prevention and rehabilitation fronts of the drive.

“Since these four have to be in sync, a supervisory agency has to step in in order to ensure that the concerned government agencies mandated to perform several duties under RA 9165 are doing the same satisfactorily,” Sotto said.

The bill will amend RA 9165, which Sotto authored during his second term in the Senate. The law created the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The Senate president noted how the current setup among the PDEA, PNP and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has failed to curb the illegal operations, especially since corrupt agents have been abusing their powers and authorities as they collude with drug syndicates.

Sotto cited recent revelations at the Senate indicating connivance between drug traders and ninja cops.

“We need to further dig deeper into our mental arsenal and discover new tactics to put an end to this. We all need to exhaust our ideas and efforts,” he said. “After many years, we need to keep improving and put in a lot of revisions into the old law and upgrade the functions of PDEA.”

Sotto stressed that “the war against drugs needs to continuously adjust to the strategies, tactics and new substances introduced by illegal drug suppliers. Big-time drug lords must be countered by big-time government interdiction; while retail peddlers must be stopped by the barangay and street tanod and policemen.”

“The law, as presently formulated, needs retrofitting, so to speak, like any structure or machine in constant use for 14 years now. Supervision of enforcement activities is desirable to map out policies for more effective anti-illegal drugs campaign,” he said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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