A MEMBER of the Police Regional Office 13 in Caraga region became the 1st member of the Philippine National Police who will undergo summary dismissal proceedings this year after he tested positive for shabu during a mandatory drug test last week, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Corporal John Rey Ibasco, assigned with the PRO13 Regional Logistics and Research Development Division was found positive for shabu during an initial screening and a confirmatory test conducted by the PNP Crime Laboratory, said PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas.
Thus, the Caraga policeman went on record to be the 1st member of the PNP to test positive for substance abuse since 2021 started. In 2020, a total of 47 policemen were found positive for shabu and are now undergoing summary dismissal proceedings.
Sinas also has aired his intention to cloth all 17 Police Regional Office directors with full power to handle the dismissal of drug-positive policemen in their areas amid findings that 438 policemen were found to be drug users from 2016 to date and amid complaints that the PNP Internal Affairs Service is taking too long to resolve the cases of identified drug users in the police force.
In the wake of the Ibasco case, the PNP chief warned anew drug-using policemen in the country that they will be facing immediate dismissal from the service which will mean the forfeiture of all government benefits due them and disqualification from holding any public office.
According to PRO13 director, Brigadier Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr., Ibasco tested positive for substance abuse during a mandatory drug testing in Butuan City this week.
“I was informed that a police officer from Police Regional Office-13 tested positive for drug use during random drug testing early this week in Butuan City. I have ordered PRO13 director, Brigadier Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr. to expedite the pre-charge investigation and initiate summary dismissal proceedings against the drug-using cop,” said Sinas.
Caramat said the unannounced drug test was administered to personnel stationed at the PRO13 Regional Headquarters in Camp Colonel Rafael Rodriguez by personnel of the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 13 led by Captain Cindy Mahilig on Tuesday last week.
Caramat said that out of the 332 personnel tested, Corporal John Rey Ibasco, assigned with the Regional Logistics and Research Development Division 13 yielded positive result for drug use after confirmatory tests.
“I have ordered to expand random drug testing to all police personnel to rid the organization of drug-using cops. There is no place in the PNP for them,” said Sinas following the report from Caramat.
The PRO13 director immediately directed the head of RLRDD to disarm and place Ibasco under restrictive custody to ensure his availability to face further investigation for his subsequent dismissal from the service.
Last week, the Journal Group learned that a 41-year old policeman from Central Visayas became the 47th member of the PNP to test positive for substance abuse in 2020 and thus will be undergoing summary hearing procedure after being disarmed by his superiors.
According to the PNP chief, Cpl. Manuel Paez of the PRO7 Recruitment and Selection Service tested positive for shabu during an initial screening of his urine specimen. A confirmatory test using the PNP Crime Laboratory’s GCSM machine yielded the same positive result, Sinas said.
Following the release of the positive drug result, Paez was stripped of his PNP-issued firearm and badge and was relieved from his unit and transferred to the PRO7 Personnel Holding and Administrative Unit.
Sinas ordered the PNP Internal Affairs Service to fast-track the conduct of pre-charge investigation and summary hearing procedure on the accused.
According to PNP Recruitment and Selection Service director, Colonel Nora Camarao, she was ordered by Sinas to conduct a mandatory drug test on all policemen assigned to RSS Units across the country last December 17.
The PNP chief said those who failed to submit to a drug test last December 17 will be facing charges for gross insubordination and will be relieved from their posts.
Camarao said that past 10 a.m. last December 17, Paez and his colleagues were ordered to submit their urine specimens before the Regional Crime Laboratory 7 in Cebu City. All but Paez tested negative for shabu and marijuana during the test, she said.
Prior to the release of Paez’ drug test result, the PNP chief said that 46 policemen have also tested positive for shabu from January to date, 18 of them from the PNP National Headquarters and 20 from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
The 46 tested positive for shabu use during initial screening and a follow-up confirmatory test conducted by the PNP Crime Laboratory headed by Brigadier Gen. Steve B. Ludan.
Once dismissed from the PNP, these policemen will also lose all their retirement benefits and other remunerations apart from facing criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The PNP chief likewise noted that 438 policemen have tested positive for illegal drug use since 2016, the year when President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a war on drugs and went all-out in going after rogues in uniform specifically the so-called ‘Ninja Cops.’
“I have discussed it with the PNP Internal Affairs Service and gusto ko ay ipa-amend ang directive na i-handle na ng mga regional directors ang drug cases ng mga pulis nila,” the PNP chief told the Journal Group.
He said that he wants all policemen who have been reported to be using shabu or marijuana to be immediately tested and dismissed as soon as possible by their respective regional directors in coordination with the Regional IAS.
Sinas said he is speaking based on experience since he used to be the RD of Police Regional Office 7 in Central Visayas and later the NCRPO. He lamented that when he was still the Metro Manila police chief, he discovered that one of his personnel who tested positive for shabu was still receiving his salary.
“Experience ko kasi twice akong naging RD, matagal bago madismiss ang pulis na positive sa drugs. Mga isang taon bago ma-dismiss, yung iba, nag-AWOL na bago lumabas ang decision. Dapat talaga i-file agad ang kaso at i-dismiss agad. Dapat hindi tumatagal ang kaso,” he said.
According to the PNP Chief, he also wants all policemen who have been tested positive for illegal drug use to be prevented from filing their resignation papers. “We should not let them resign. Dapat dishonorable discharge sila at baka mag-apply pa sa ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno,” he said.
Shabu remained to be the preferred illegal drug of the drug-positive policemen with 91 percent of them shabu users. Majority of those who tested positive for drugs were assigned in police regional offices, are Police Non-Commissioned Officers and majority are males.
The policemen tested positive during an initial screening test and later a confirmatory test using the PNP Crime Laboratory’s GCMC machine or Gas Chromatography Spectrometer Equipment, said Sinas, himself a former PNP Crime Lab director.