By Jeffrey Damicog
A regional trial court (RTC) branch in San Fernando, Pampanga has been picked to handle the charges filed against Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo IV and 11 other so-called “ninja cops” over their alleged involvement in a questionable 2013 anti-illegal drugs operation in Pampanga.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez said on Wednesday (Feb. 12) that Judge Esperanza Santiago Paglinawan-Rosario of RTC Branch 44 was picked to handle the case following a raffle held last Feb. 3.
Suarez also said, “We are just awaiting an order for the court to determine kung may (if there is) probable cause to issue warrant of arrest,” after which the judge will set the arraignment date of the accused.
Baloyo and the 11 “ninja cops” are facing charges before the RTC for violating Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly Section 27, Article II for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs; Sec. 29, Art. II, planting of evidence; and Sec. 92, Art. XI, delay and bungling in the prosecution of drugs cases; and qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code.
Aside from Baloyo, those charged are P/Insp. Joven Bagnot De Guzman, Jr., SPO1 (Senior Police Officer) Jules Lacap Maniago, SPOI Donald Castro Roque, SPO1 Ronald Bayas Santos, SPO1 Rommel Muñoz Vital, SPO1 Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio, PO3 (Police Officer) Dindo Singian Dizon, PO3 Gilbert Angeles De Vera, PO3 Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero, Jr., SPO1 Eligio Dayos Valeroso, and SPO1 Dante Mercado Dizon.
Baloyo was also charged with falsification, while Guerrero and Santos were also charged for violating regulations issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board.
Santos and Guerrero were also charged with false testimony and perjury before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of San Fernando which already issued an arrest warrant against the two.
The charges against the 12 “ninja cops” were filed after the panel of prosecutors chaired by Suarez found probable cause to indict them following a preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) against retired PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde and the 12 “ninja cops.”
The case concerns a 2013 illegal drugs operation in Mexico, Pampanga where a team led by Baloyo was supposed to have arrested suspected foreign drug trader Johnson Lee.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) has already filed an indorsement before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) recommending that Albayalde be charged before the Sandiganbayan for violating Sec. 3(a) and Sec. 3(e) of RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The OPG also recommended to the OMB that the 12 “ninja cops” be charged along with Albayalde for violating Sec. 39(e) of RA 3019.