MANILA — Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde on Monday reiterated that only civilian informants, not law enforcement officials, are entitled to the PHP5-million reward announced by President Rodrigo Duterte for the neutralization of the so-called “ninja cops” or rogue police officers engaged in the illegal drugs trade.
“We welcome the monetary reward offered by President Rodrigo R Duterte for the neutralization of more ninja cops from the police force. This will encourage the public to provide us more information. However, even without an offer of reward, the PNP will continue aggressive counter-intelligence operations against these so-called ninja cops,” Albayalde said as he warned wayward officers to change their ways.
“Just as we have promised our anti-illegal drugs campaign to be relentless and chilling, so it shall be. But more so when police personnel are involved, there will be no mercy,” Albayalde said, clarifying that the directive does not authorize civilians to become bounty hunters to shoot and kill those in the list.
During the briefing, Albayalde also announced the deaths of three police officers in active service in Zamboanga City and Infanta, Quezon who were on the counter-intelligence watchlist of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and who died in separate encounters with arresting officers.
PO3 Ronald Bernardo and PO2 Maria Oliver Olaso, both assigned with Police Station 9 of Zamboanga City Police Office, were slain in an encounter with a composite team from the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF), PDEA, Intelligence Group and SAF resulting from a buy-bust operation on Saturday wherein they immediately opened fire upon sensing the entrapment, Albayalde said.
The operation stemmed from an intelligence report stating that both policemen were involved in recycling illegal drugs and known protectors of several drug pushers in Zamboanga City since 2010.
In 2016, the two rogue police officers arrested a certain Lao in Barangay Recodo, Zamboanga City and confiscated around four kilos of shabu but they only declared 500 grams as evidence and the rest were recycled.
Likewise, they are included in the counter-intelligence watchlist of the Directorate for Intelligence and PDEA Region 9 for their involvement in illegal drugs.
Last August 9, PO2 Ian Rey Abitona of the Infanta Municipal Police Station of Quezon Police Provincial Office (PPO) died in a shootout with arresting officers of CITF, PDEA and Quezon PPO in Barangay Pilaway, Infanta during a drug buy-bust operation.
The entrapment operation stemmed from intelligence build-up and public text complaint to CITF regarding the illegal activities of Abitona as reportedly engaged in drug trafficking and recycling of confiscated drugs.
“Despite his (Abitona) relief from the Station Drug Enforcement Unit and reassignment to an administrative post, he reportedly continued to run his illegal drug activities in the province,” Albayalde added. Benjamin Pulta/PNA-northboundasia.com