Respect our ongoing probe on 357 -- Gamboa

February 16, 2020

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday reiterated his request to the public, the media in particular to respect their ongoing investigation into the case of 357 police officers and men linked to illegal drug activities in the country.

“Ang sinabi ko  sa inyo, please respect our cops. Nakiusap naman ako, nakiusap ako na ‘wag na sana natin tingnan ang mga personalities,” said the PNP chief as he admitted he felt insulted when a media outfit (not the Journal Group) identified Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido as among those being probed.

The PNP chief had maintained that those being investigated are ‘innocent until proven guilty’ although 14 of them have already expressed intention to avail of optional retirement.

Gen. Gamboa ordered the 357 relieved from their posts to undergo a thorough adjudication regarding their reported involvement in illegal drug trafficking and other corrupt anti-narcotics activities.

According to the PNP chief, he already had made it clear to the 14 that it doesn’t mean the PNP will already stop going after them once they have retired from the force.

He explained that the PNP won’t be pressing charges anymore on any of the 357 who will seek their optional retirement package but maintained that crack police teams will still go after them if they are monitored to have returned to their illicit ways once retired already.

“If they go on optional retirement, it doesn’t mean you are off the hook already,  that you’re safe. If you continue to be involved, we are going to place you on another list which is the national watch list of the PNP,” Gen. Gamboa said.

At least 46 of the original 357 failed to show up in Camp Crame last week and were placed on AWOL or Absent Without Official Leave status on orders of the PNP chief. All those who surfaced at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center were subjected to a drug investigation with negative results, the Journal Group learned.

The PNP chief transferred the 357 to his office and ordered their daily accounting as they undergo a  month-long thorough adjudication process that will see if they are really involved or were merely ‘wrongly accused’ of involvement in illegal drug trafficking activities.

Officials explained to the Journal Group that their Adjudication Process is outside the court system where the submitted documents such as but not limited to declaration under oath, admission of facts and results of investigation conducted against the policemen involved will be reviewed and evaluated by a PNP Board created to determine if the accused policemen will be cleared from any derogatory information or not.

Under the PNP Enhanced Revitalized Internal Cleansing Strategy, Gen. Gamboa has ordered a complete validation of policemen linked to illegal drug activities.

The PNP directive says that “in any event that a PNP member refuses correction and reproof thru their prevention and reformation phases, the intelligence arms of the various levels of the PNP command will be responsible for the consolidation of validated reports which will serve as the basis for the preparation of the list of policemen involved in illegal activities in the country.’

All policemen with ‘validated confirmed reports’ on their involvement in illegal drugs will be subjected to case build-up while those with ‘validated not true reports’ will be removed from the PNP watch list.

On the other hand,” those with validated not true reports due to unavailability of information to develop an intelligence packet for use in negation operation or lack of strong proof/substantial evidence for prosecution will be transferred outside their present assignment.”

The PNP chief refused to identify those on the list saying he is not into the habit of embarrassing his men and their families.

Journal Group sources said that some of them were identified as so-called ‘Ninja Cops’ who gained notoriety for their involvement in ‘bangketa/hulidap’ operations and ‘recycling’ of confiscated drug evidence before and during the early part of the Duterte administration. Their names were later included on the National Watchlist on Illegal Drugs.

The first level of validation will be conducted by an adjudication board from the Regional, National Support Unit and PNP Directorial Staff. The final adjudication will come from the National Headquarters Adjudication Board headed by PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Lieutenant Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan whose decision will be approved by Gen. Gamboa and later endorsed to President Duterte for the Commander-in-Chief’s final word.