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DOJ forms panel to handle raps vs ‘ninja cops’

PNA

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday designated a panel of prosecutors to handle the criminal charges against police officers allegedly involved in the reselling of seized illegal drugs.
In Department Order No. 969 dated February 17, Guevarra named Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Suarez and Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina Dugay, Gino Paolo Santiago, Ethel Suril, and Alyssa Zapata as members of the panel.

The panel will handle the prosecution of the cases for drug violations and others before the San Fernando, Pampanga regional trial court (RTC) against the 12 police officers over alleged anomalies in a 2013 anti-drug raid in the province.

The charges were filed after a panel of state prosecutors chaired by Suarez found probable cause to charge the so-called “ninja cops”.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted the re-investigation of the complaint that was filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

The case involves the illegal drug operations in Mexico, Pampanga where a team led by Maj. Rodney Baloyo IV was supposed to have arrested suspected foreign drug trader Johnson Lee.

The panel charged the 12 police officers with the violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly, Section 27, Article II for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs; Section 29, Article II, planting of evidence; and Section 92, Article XI, delay and bungling in the prosecution of drugs cases.

Aside from Baloyo, those charged are P/Insp. Joven Bagnot de Guzman Jr.; Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Jules Lacap Maniago; SPO1 Donald Castro Roque; SPO1 Ronald Bayas Santos; SPO1 Rommel Muñoz Vital; SPO1 Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio; PO3 Dindo Singian Dizon; PO3 Gilbert Angeles de Vera; PO3 Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero Jr.; SPO1 Eligio Dayos Valeroso; and SPO1 Dante Mercado Dizon.

The 12 accused were also charged with qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code.

Aside from these, Guerrero and Santos were charged with violating regulations issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board regarding the chain of custody of evidence; falsification by a public officer against Baloyo who made untruthful statements in his spot report and progress report regarding the operation; and false testimony and perjury in solemn affirmation against Santos and Guerrero who made untruthful statements in their affidavit of arrest against Chinese national Ding Wenkun.

The DOJ panel previously found that the 12 accused “misappropriated drugs when they declared that only 36.60 kilograms of shabu were seized during their operations, while the subsequent police investigation indicated that about 200 kilos methamphetamine hydrochloride was actually recovered.”

“The group likewise declared that the cash they obtained from the operation to be only PHP300,000 while contrary evidence indicated that said amount reached PHP10 million,” the DOJ panel said.

It added that some of the respondents were likewise found to have failed to declare and account for a Toyota Fortuner vehicle which was also seized during the operation.

The panel also found that the policemen “illegally arrested one Ding Wenkun instead of Johnson Lee from whom they seized the drugs” and “implicated or imputed upon Wenkun the crime of illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs despite their knowledge that it was Lee who should be charged”.

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