DoJ panel to reinvestigate ‘ninja cops’

DoJ Sec. Menardo Guevarra. (DoJ)

A three man panel was created by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Monday to look into the allegations that several officers tagged as “ninja” cops resold seized drugs.

In Department Order No. 528 issued by DoJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the panel consists of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez, Assistant State Prosecutor Josie Christina Dugay and Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Paulo Santiago.

“The Special Panel of Prosecutors is hereby authorized to investigate and receive additional evidence in NPS (National Prosecution Service) Docket No. XVI-INV-14E-00152 entitled “Criminal and Investigation Detenction Group (CIDG) represented by PSSupt (Police Senior Superintendent) Albert Ignatius Ferro vs. PSupt. Rodney Louie Juico Baloyo IV, et al,” the order read.

The panel was given 30 days to finish its investigation and file the necessary criminal charges against the alleged ninja cops if warranted by the evidence.

Baloyo and 12 other policemen were implicated in the 2013 anti-drug operation in Pampanga in which so-called “ninja” cops allowed suspected drug lord Johnson Lee to get away in exchange for 160 kilos of shabu worth P50 million.

“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 erring policemen are charged for violation of Sections 27 (misappropriation), 21 (planting of evidence) and 32 (custody and disposition of evidence) which were all dismissed.

Senators who conducted hearings on the controversial issue claimed that the cases filed were too weak that resulted to its dismissal.

Instead of being dismissed from the service, the cops were slapped with a lesser penalty of one rank demotion.

Meanwhile, Guevarra said in a recent drug law summit held in the historic Manila Hotel that there is a need to revisit R.A. No. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 for it may have directly or indirectly weakened efforts to eradicate the sale and distribution of dangerous drugs in communities.

“Such legislation has ironically been made to stand on its head by drug dealers and syndicates who have used children as drug couriers precisely because of the protection granted to them by law,” explained Guevarra referring to the law that exempted children 15 years of age or younger from criminal responsibility.

Guevarra said the law enacted to protect and care children has incentivized their exploitation and engagement into the shady world of drug trafficking and dealing.

Proposals to lower the age of criminal responsibility, complemented by interventions to keep children out of streets and away from the exploitative influence of criminal elements, is highly and carefully considered as part of the comprehensive and holistic approach to suppress the drug problem, according to the secretary.

He said work on such proposals must complement and supplement the initiatives of the Executive, including those of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs and the Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force created through Executive Order No. 15, series of 2016.

“Between these criminal syndicates and our innocent communities stand all of us here today—lawmakers, academics, law enforcers, prosecutors, and judges. Our task is to fortify our laws and legal processes against purveyors of dangerous drugs. Our joint efforts should effectively place our children and their future out of reach of those who seek to exploit and destroy them. In this task we must not fail,” said Guevarra.

p: wjg