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5 relieved ‘narco-cops’ undergoing pre-charge evaluation

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By Martin Sadongdong

The five active police officers who were included in the newest drug matrix released by President Duterte have been subjected to a pre-charge evaluation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed Friday.

Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde confirmed this during an interview with reporters after he led the 117th Police service anniversary of the Cordillera Police Regional Office (PRO-COR) in Camp Bado Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet.

“Lahat ay (All of them were) relieved pending an investigation. They will be given due process and they are undergoing a pre-charge evaluation,” Albayalde said.

The five sacked cops were identified as Senior Supt. Leonardo Suan, whose appointment to PNP-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had been cancelled; Supt. Lorenzo Bacia, of PRO-ARMM; Senior Insp. Lito Pirote, of Central Luzon Police Regional Office (PRO-3); Insp. Conrado Caragdag, PRO-Cordillera; and Senior Police Officer 4 Alejandro Liwanag, of Cagayan Valley Regional Police.

All five relieved officers have been transferred to the Police Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU) in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

“Kung makakita tayo ng probable cause, they will face summary hearing procedures and kung mabigat ‘yung makita sa kanila, they will face dismissal (If we see a probable cause [in their case], they will face summary hearing procedures and if what we find has weight, they will face dismissal),” Albayalde noted.

The pre-charge evaluation is expected to last for one week, after which, the results will be forwarded to Albayalde.

If in case the investigators find probable cause in their case, a summary hearing will commence to determine the liability and the punishment to be given to the involved cops. It usually lasts for 60 days or two months at most.

Aside from the five relieved cops, two other police officials were included in Duterte’s drug matrix: dismissed Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto and retired Gen. Ismael Fajardo Jr.

Acierto was ordered dismissed by Albayalde in August 2018 after his involvement in the anomalous issuance of Ak-47 rifle licenses to a businessman from 2011 to 2013. The firearms allegedly ended up in the hands of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Mindanao.

In a “Secret Special Report” distributed by Duterte to Palace reporters on Tuesday night, it was stated that Acierto also handled positions in the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special Operations Task Force (AID-SOTF), PHAU, Headquarters Support Services (HSS) and the defunct Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) of the PNP from 2003 to 2016.

Meanwhile, Fajardo became the deputy chief of administration of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) after his retirement but was sacked last month due to his involvement in the P6.8-billion ‘shabu’ suspectedly smuggled into the country through four magnetic lifters discovered in a warehouse in Cavite in August 2018.

Fajardo was previously associated with the AID-SOTF, having been the chief of its Special Operations Group (SOG), and with the PNP-DEG, which was replaced now by the PNP-Police Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) after the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in January 2017.

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