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Monday, March 4, 2024

House panel backs raps vs. cops in big drug haul

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The House of Representatives committee on dangerous drugs supports the government’s move to file criminal and administrative charges against several police officers with the Ombudsman for the alleged cover-up of the P6.7-billion “shabu” drug bust in October 2022.

The committee, chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, on Wednesday recommended filing the charges against 12 police commissioned officers (PCOs) and 38 police non-commissioned officers (PNCOs).

“Some law enforcement officers are engaged in the reprehensible act of illegal drug recycling… This unlawful conduct involves policeofficers seizing dangerous drugs during operations, only to divert them back into the illegal market for personal gain,” the panel’s Committee Report 495 stated.

Earlier, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said criminal cases have been filed against the 50 police officers involved in what he described as “probably the biggest drug haul in the history of the Philippines.”

Abalos earlier said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and theNapolcom filed the cases for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act as amended; Revised Penal Code, in particular, Article 171 on Falsification, Article 183 on Perjury, Article 184 on False Testimony and Article 217 for Malversation of Public Property; and Presidential Decree No. 1829 or Obstruction of Justice were filed against the police officers before the Office of the Ombudsman on June 9.

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“Aside from the criminal charges filed against these police officers, the Napolcom is conducting administrative proceedings,” Abalos said in a statement by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

“The Napolcom has completed its pre-charge investigation against the 48 PNP officers and members that appeared in the video and expects to issue its resolution after about 15 days,” Abalos added.

He explained that the filing of cases stemmed from the investigation by Napolcom and the PNP’s Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) on the 990-kg shabu haul worth P6.7 billion in Manila last year.

Among the findings of the Barbers committee stated in the report was the illegal scheme of giving substantial portions of confiscated drugs as a reward to confidential assets or informants as a prevailing practice in anti-drug operations.

The report also noted that the 990 kilograms of shabu seized in the Western Police District Lending Office on October 8, 2022 was a “product of drug recycling.”

“With these findings in mind, the panel proposed strengthening RA 9165 by amending Section 21, especially on the immediate destruction of seized drugs,” the committee report noted.

The House panel also recommended a memorandum of agreement with crematory facilities, as part of their corporate social responsibility, for the immediate destruction of confiscated narcotics.

It also sought the mandatory use of body-worn cameras by operatives in anti-drug operations to ensure transparency and accountability.

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