PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday, January 15, that the “intelligence sources” of President Rodrigo Duterte will prove that the sacked five commissioned officers of the Bacolod City Police Office, including its police chief, have links to the illegal drug trade.
On Monday, January 14, he said that Duterte may have received the information about the five alleged narco-cops from the Philippine National Police (PNP), the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
However, the PNP and PDEA cleared Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo, former acting director of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO); Superintendents Ritchie Yatar, Nasruddin Tayuan, and Allan Macapagal; and Senior Inspector Victor Paulino, of their supposed drug links.
Both law enforcement agencies claimed that the five police officers were not included in their respective watchlists.
Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, director of Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas based in Iloilo City, earlier said the narco-cops, except for Ebreo, were already investigated since there were reports about their alleged engagement in the illegal drug trade.
But at present, they have no illegal drug activities based on the intelligence reports, he added.
As for Ebreo, it was the first time that Bulalacao heard his name being implicated in illegal drugs.
Bulalacao even expressed his sadness and disappointment about it but he assured that it will be investigated.
“Siguro, iba ang source of information ni Presidente. Presidente ito. Ang dami nitong tentacles of intelligence (Perhaps, the President has different source of information. He's a president. He has tentacles of intelligence),” Panelo said in a press briefing.
Despite their non-inclusion in the drugs watchlist of the two agencies, they would still conduct an investigation on the relieved cops following the President’s pronouncement over the weekend.
In his latest remarks, Panelo admitted that there was lack of information with regard to the drug offenders being protected by the alleged narco-cops.
“Hindi pa alam kung sino ang involved (drug personalities). So we have to know the extent of his participation, sinong ka-contact (who's being contacted), you have to get the source,” the Palace official said.
“Sa (on) criminal investigation, you get first the small fry and then malalaman mo kung saan nanggagaling 'yung source (you'll know where the source is). Hindi mo naman kaagad malalaman kung sino 'yung principal (You cannot immediately identify the principal). Usually, you start with the small fishes),” he added.
On January 12, Duterte fired Ebreo and the four other police officers due to their alleged drug links, when he attended a birthday party in Bacolod City.
These police were summoned by Duterte to Malacañang on Monday, January 14, but the meeting was moved the following day.
However, Bulalacao, who accompanied Ebreo and the four other police in Malacañang, has yet to provide an update on the matter.
The five police officers were already transferred to the Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit, pending the investigation.
Bacolod Councilor Ricardo “Cano” Tan was also mentioned by Duterte to be reportedly engaging in illegal drugs, an allegation the PDEA also denied, claiming he is also not included in their drugs watchlist.
Duterte has identified Tan as a high-value target ranked fourth in his watchlist.
Tan had also earlier denied the same accusation against him, but he has yet to issue a statement on the recent announcement of Duterte tagging him in the illegal drug trade.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas, officer-in-charge of BCPO, said he would also continue the internal cleansing among the lower ranks in the city police force as part of their intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
Biñas, who served as temporary BCPO head, paid a courtesy call to Mayor Evelio Leonardia on Tuesday, January 15.
Leonardia told Biñas to focus more on curbing the drug menace and to continue the reduction of criminalities in Bacolod.
He is hoping that the City Government and the police force will have a very strong and productive partnership. (with reports from SunStar Philippines)