Malacañang late Thursday night signified that it is looking into the possible knowledge or involvement of some high officials who served under the Aquino administration in the Chinese drug triad and the five police generals whom President Rodrigo Duterte had publicly shamed.
Duterte accused retired Deputy Director General Marcelino Garbo, retired Chief Superintendent Vicente Loot, and three other active police generals, namely Chief Superintendents Joel Pagdilao, Edgardo Tinio and Bernardo Diaz of protecting the Chinese Drug Triad operating inside the National Bilibid Prisons, which is allegedly behind the multi-billion drug operations in the country.
Some Aquino Cabinet officials are rumored to have protected these big drug lords because they have allegedly put down any sting operation against them. As a result, only small time drug pushers were apprehended.
An ex-PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) agent had earlier accused a former Cabinet official, who was overseeing a state anti-organized crime body, of not running after big drug lords.
Under the Aquino administration, the New Bilibid Prisons became the headquarters of drug lords in this country.
Two of the named big-time drug lords —Wu Tuan alias Peter Co, a Chinese national who leads the triad operations in Luzon and National Capital Region and Herbert Colangco alias Ampang who operates the drug operations in Mindanao have been remotely operating the drug operation and transaction through cellphones.
Aguirre said that while he cannot yet divulge the names of these high officials or offices, he said they may have benefitted from the illegal drug trade and even coddled traders.
“If any evidence will be presented, then [action would be taken]; they could be in conspiracy with these people because there are some information that many in high positions received monetary consideration for protecting some of these drug lords,” he said.
Aguirre added that he is studying the possibility of placing on the immigration Lookout Bulletin the five police officers, incumbent and retired, shamed by Duterte for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
A Lookout Bulletin Order alerts all immigration officers in all ports nationwide for the possible exit of these generals who have yet to undergo formal investigation.
All five generals have denied involvement in illegal drug operations and assured the President and the Philippine National Police that they will cooperate in any probe by government entities on the issue.
On Friday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueño vowed to keep a keen eye on the issue of the five police generals linked by Duterte to illegal drugs.
Sueño said he has instructed the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to look into the purported criminal activities of retired Deputy Director General Marcelino Garbo, retired Chief Superintendent Vicente Loot, and three other active police generals, namely Chief Superintendents Joel Pagdilao, Edgardo Tinio and Bernardo Diaz.
“The Napolcom has already started its probe on the alleged links of these generals to the illegal-drug business. As soon as they wrap up the investigation, the report will be submitted to the Office of the President,” he said.
At the same time, Sueño said he has already instructed Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to proceed with the lifestyle check in the entire police force, starting with the police generals.
“As public servants, we are expected to be exemplars of honesty, integrity and professionalism. So if the policemen or any other civil servant for that matter have acquired unexplained wealth while in active service, they have a lot of explaining to do,” he said.
As for Loot, who was elected mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu, the DILG Secretary said, he has also instructed the Department’s lawyers to conduct a case build-up to gather facts against the former police general.
“I have given instructions to them (lawyers) to gather as much evidence as they could to determine the culpability or innocence of the generals, and if the evidence warrants, to build a solid case against them (generals),” Sueno said.
Under the law, the DILG acts as the investigating arm of the Office of the President for cases of elective local officials of provinces and cities. In so far as elective local officials of municipalities and barangays are concerned, this falls under the jurisdiction of the sanggunian (council) or can be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman.
On Thursday, Pagdilao, Tinio and Diaz appeared at the Napolcom office and presented themselves to Sueño to clarify their alleged involvement in illegal drugs activities.
Loot meanwhile presented himself to Sueño on Friday to submit himself to the DILG’s investigation.