Arrest warrant out for 2 cops in botched sting

Ramil Bajo, Rey Galupo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Two Caloocan policemen who were relieved in connection with a failed drug sting in Baguio City last year, which left a suspect dead and two policemen wounded, are now the subjects of an arrest warrant.

A source said yesterday the warrant, issued by the Baguio Regional Trial Court, arrived in Caloocan on Thursday but Police Officer 3 Moammar Concepcion and Senior Police Officer 2 Elmar Orulfo reportedly “got wind of the (warrant) and had filed leave of absences early last week.”

Senior Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante, city police chief, confirmed that the warrant was out but has not yet reached his office.

“I am still awaiting the papers from the warrant section and I will immediately implement it as soon as possible,” Bustamante told The STAR.

Two other lawmen who went with Concepcion and Orulfo on the Baguio sting, Police Officers 1 Kenneth Geronimo and Czeron Nero Masadia, were not included in the warrant “because they were not inside the house when the shooting occurred,” according to the source.

Orulfo was identified in July 2015 by a businessman as one of the members of the Caloocan anti-illegal drug unit who reportedly arrested and extorted P2 million from him.

It was unclear if Police Officer 3 Dan Fermalino, reportedly assigned at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), and also said to be involved in the sting and was with his family and brother-in-law during the operation, was included in the warrant.

The source said Orulfo and Concepcion are reportedly in hiding but constantly coordinating with their friends “in the station.”

Questionable operation

The case stemmed from an order by then Caloocan station anti-illegal drugs chief Inspector Virgilio Platon to catch three suspects – only identified as Buloy, Bong Perez and Bodet – without informing Bustamante before or after the operation was staged.

Although Platon and his men sent a pre-operation and coordination form that was approved by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the fact that he was left out in the cold shows that the operation smacked of dishonesty and deception, according to Bustamante.

He said Platon might have used a pre-coordination form he previously signed but “was not really informed by his men before and after the fact.”

In his post-operation report to Bustamante, Platon said while Orulfo and Concepcion were in Fermalino’s home, a certain Yasser Dimaren Macalandap knocked and started shooting as soon as Ismael Sandangan, Fermalino’s brother-in-law, opened the door.

Fermalino was hit three times while Sandangan was hit once during the initial volley.

Platon said Concepcion, without pulling his gun from his shoulder bag, grabbed Macalandap’s gun as Fermalino managed to fire his gun and hit their assailant. Fermalino also accidentally hit Concepcion in the elbow.

Fermalino was rushed to the Pines City Doctors Hospital while Orulfo carried Concepcion to their car and rushed back to Manila, leaving the crime scene behind.

After hours of travelling, Orulfo brought Concepcion to the MCU Hospital in Caloocan, informing Platon of the incident along the way.

Bustamante said Platon turned off his mobile phone after learning that one of his men was wounded.

He said when he summoned Platon, the latter told him that his operatives arranged a sting involving P1 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu at a supermarket in Monumento on Aug. 29, 2015 but the actual exchange fell through and was moved to Baguio City.

It was not clear why Fermalino was with the Caloocan policemen, but Bustamante said Fermalino’s Muslim wife was the informant and the police officer was knowledgeable in the illegal drug trade in the city.

He added that Fermalino and his family were supposed to go on vacation after the operation.

Platon told Bustamante that the sting was aborted because the targets refused to meet with the undercover buyer.

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