NCRPO probers told to expedite DUI cases
National Capital Region Police Office director Oscar Albayalde on Friday ordered his men to expedite the investigation of unresolved cases of suspected drug dealers and dependents killed in the government’s war on drugs.
Albayalde signed a Memorandum Circular that sets principle and guidelines to resolve cases on the alleged extrajudicial killings, which police authorities described as Homicide or Death Under Investigation.
The Memorandum, according to Albayalde, “adopts the procedure in criminal investigation in studying facts used to identify, locate and prove the guilt of an accused criminal.”
From July 1, 2016 to April 23, 2017, the NCRPO recorded 2,568 cases of death under inquiry in which “1,282 were categorized as drug related, 488 are suspected drug related and 798 non-drug related. Of this, Albayalde said, 422 were solved and cleared.”
Albayalde directed the Regional Investigation and Detection Management Division to hasten the probe to achieve “Zero Backlog” on cases of death under investigations.
He reiterated that murder and homicide incidents are not taken for granted and reminded the police operatives to always observe respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Albayalde added that the NCRPO will also conduct further investigation on police personnel involved with illegal drugs and drug personalities. Corresponding sanctions will be immediately implemented, he said.
The Metro Manila police chief has assured the efficient, responsive and coordinated efforts in terms of Information Operation campaign to inform and update the public on actions taken by the NCRPO in resolving those cases.
He recognized the support extended by stakeholders but at the same time appealed to the community for their continued support and engagement on the battle against illegal drugs.
“Keeping the public informed is our way of returning their trust, support and cooperation to us,” Albayalde said.
Recent reports from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that 3,534 out of 42,036 barangays in the country have been cleared of drugs.
The agency also reported that 163 drug dens and nine clandestine shabu laboratories have been destroyed while at least P18.84 billion worth of prohibited substance were seized during anti-drug operations from July 2016 to September this year.
Albayalde expressed belief that the relentless Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel implemented by the National Police has greatly contributed to the reduction of street crimes.
But various sectors denounced the spate of extrajudicial killings happening in the country, saying the killings will not stop the illegal drug trade.
“The illegal drug trade is only a symptom of deeper social problems like rising poverty, joblessness, extreme hunger, injustice, and inequality which push people to the underworld economy out of desperation,” said Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo.
The war on drugs, the group said, is bound to fail if not accompanied by deeper social change involving genuine land reform, the creation of jobs through the building of national industries, and massive social welfare for the affordable rehabilitation of parts of the population victimized by the drug menace.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said that it has provided the Department of Justice (DOJ) sufficient evidence to establish probable cause against several individuals the agency charged over the controversial P6.4-billion illegal drug shipment that slipped into the country in May.
In its affidavit, the PDEA said those charged only had “denials and alibis” for their defense and raised issues of technicality in their counter-affidavits.
“Probable cause for the offenses charged has been sufficiently established by complainant, notwithstanding the alleged technical ‘flaws’ being pointed out by respondents. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not, a crime has been committed by the suspects,” PDEA’s couter-affidavit read.
“It need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, not on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt,” it added.
The charges include conspiring to import illegal drugs and coddling drug traffickers, penalized under Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; graft; obstruction of justice; and negligence and tolerance, penalized under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.
Named respondents are resigned Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, former BOC Directors Milo Maestrecampo and Neil Anthony Estrella, intelligence officers Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente, Manila International Container Port District collector lawyer Vincent Phillip Maronilla, Customs employees Alexandra Ventura, Randolph Cabansag, Dennis Maniego, Dennis Cabildo and John Edillor, and lawyer Jeline Maree Magsuci.
Separate charges were filed for illegal drugs importation against businessman Chen Ju Long, also known as “Richard Tan” and “Richard Chen,” owner of Hongfei Logistics Inc., the warehouse in Valenzuela City where the “shabu” shipment was seized, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong, Mark Taguba II, Teejay Marcellana, Emily Dee, Eirene May Tatad, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jyun, and Chen Rong Juan.
Meanwhile, Hong Fei Logistics officers Genelita Arayan, Dennis Nocom, Zhang Hong, Rene Palle, Richard Rebistual, and Mary Rose de la Cruz were charged for violations of Section 30 (criminal liability of officers of partnerships, corporations) of RA 9165.
The illegal importation became the subject of legislative investigations by the Senate and House of Representatives, where Faeldon and other customs officials have been accused of pocketing “tara” or bribes to clear the release of shipments.
In a related development, Dangerous Drugs Board chief Dionisio Santiago said he would welcome the appointment of a representative from a non-government organization to join the agency and help formulate policies.
He said he is hoping that someone from an NGO “will be appointed soon as mandated by Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”
Despite such non-representation, he said he was still “pleased with the way the DDB Family welcomed the changes in the organization.
“Everyone is determined to do their part in pursuing the mission of the DDB,” he added.
DDB is the country’s policy-making and strategy-formulating body on drug abuse prevention and control.
According to Santiago, the appointments made by President Rodrigo Duterte brought about changes in the administration of the Dangerous Drugs Board.
Ex-deputy executive director for operations Earl Saavedra has been named as executive director, while Maria Belen Angelita Matibag has been designated as deputy executive director for operations.
Santiago also welcomed Jose Marlowe Pedregosa, who was appointed as undersecretary, thereby completing the set of three permanent members of the board.
Last Thursday, the three officials took their oath before Santiago at the DDB headquarters in Quezon City.
The DDB chief said the appointment of Saavedra, Matibag and Pedregosa would help the agency pursue the anti-illegal drugs agenda of the President.