Bulacan cops in 'fake' drug bust placed under restrictive custody

Murder and kidnapping complaints have been filed against 11 personnel of the intelligence and drug enforcement unit of the San Jose del Monte City police in Bulacan for allegedly detaining six men and killing two of them in what the law enforcers claimed to be an anti-drug operation.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police ordered the administrative relief of, and placed under restrictive custody the 11 cops accused of killing two men in a fabricated drug bust in Bulacan. 

Police General Archie Gamboa, police chief, ordered the administrative relief of the 11 police personnel of San Jose Del Monte City Police Station who were named as respondents in a  kidnapping with murder complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation.

This was to “preclude the possibility of exerting undue influence in the ongoing investigation by the [Department of Justice] Prosecution Service and the internal investigation by the PNP,” the statement read.

“The chief PNP emphasized that the unlawful actions of the indicted policemen are purely their own and are not sanctioned by any official orders, policy or regulation,” it added.

GAMBOA ORDERS RESTRICTIVE CUSTODY OF 11 BULACAN COPS PNP Chief, Police General Archie Gamboa ordered the administrative...

Posted by Philippine National Police on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Gamboa also directed Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, police regional director in Central Luzon , to place the 11 cops under restrictive custody to ensure their availability in further investigation.

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This is not the first time that the cops faced complaints over the drug war operations that led to deaths, such as of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo and teenager Kian Delos Santos.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council that the Philippine government has created an inter-agency panel to investigate killings under its brutal drug war, four years into the Duterte administration.

The complaint

The NBI on Wednesday filed kidnapping with murder and violation of the firearms regulation law and the Dangerous Drugs Act against the following:

  • Police Maj. Leo Commendador Dela Rosa, chief intelligence section/city drug enforcement unit of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan
  • PSSg. Benjie De Castro Enconado
  • PSSg. Jayson Morales Legaspi
  • PSSg. Irwin Joy Morfe Yuson
  • PSSg. Edmund Villamar Catubay Jr.
  • PCpl. Jay Marc Mabasa Leoncio
  • PCpl. Herbert Linoy Hernandez
  • PCpl. Raymond Babida Bayan
  • PCpl. Paul Jimenez Malgapo
  • Pat. Erwin Oplimo Sabido
  • Pat. Rusco Virnar Alcaraz Madla

According to the spot report, Mergal and Cordero were arrested on a supposed buy-bust operation and fought back against the arresting cops, which forced te police to retaliate.

“Allegedly recovered from [Mergal and Cordero] were a caliber .38 Armscor revolver, an improvised shotgun and several sachets containing shabu,” it said.

But the NBI investigation showed a different story. It said that on Feb. 13, 2020 the cops “forcibly took” Erwin Mergal and Jim Joshua Cordero, with Edmar Asprin, Richard Salgado, Chamberlain Domingo and Chadwin Santos “without legal ground” to their police office.

At around 8:00 p.m., agents of the intel/CDEU conducted an alleged buy-bust operation against a certain Edwin Macapanas in his residence where four others were apprehended.

While the operatives were waiting, Asprin and Salgado passed by Macapanas’ house. They turned back after they were informed that a police operation had just been conducted, but Dela Rosa and Enconado flagged them down and forcibley made them board the operatives’ van.

Domingo and Santos, in tricycle, also passed by the house and were made to board the van. Mergal and Cordero, aboard a motorcycle, were flagged down when they also passed by.

They were searched and later brought to Macapanas’ house, before they were forced to board the van.

Inside the police office, the six were “blindfolded, hog-tied and detained threat, pending the inclusion of their names in the PDEA-PNP Unified Drugs Watch List and the required coordination with the PDEA to conduct buy-bust,” the NBI said.

Five days later, Mergal and Cordero were killed in a fabricated buy-bust operation, the bureau said in its complaint. — with reports from The STAR/Evelyn Macairan

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