EIGHT so-called Ninja Cops or police officers involved in ‘Bangketa/Hulidap’ (arrest-extortion) operations and recycling of confiscated drug evidence have ended up dead in the hands of unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen since the start of the Duterte administration, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
The suspected rogue cops’ deaths followed a pattern: all were tailed by motorbike-riding men who shot them in the head and body at the slightest opportunity, mostly in broad daylight. All victims were also unable to return fire although they were armed.
According to National Capital Region Police Office director Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the eight were among the 16 identified Ninja Cops in Metro Manila who were on the drug list of President Duterte.
Of the 16, eight were shot dead by unidentified motorcycle-riding assassins and their cases are still being investigated; one was killed following a shootout with the police; two have been dismissed; two are AWOL or Absent Without Official Leave; two already retired and one under detention.
Those killed include a police major, a captain, a lieutenant, a retired chief master sergeant, a master sergeant, two corporals and two patrolmen. Except for the police captain who was killed in a police entrapment operation, all the rest were shot dead by so-called riding-in-tandem criminals.
The official said that most of the identified rogue cops were named as either “coddlers or protectors” of a known “Drug Queen” in Manila who is an ex-barangay chairperson whose husband also used to be a barangay chairman.
At least seven civilian cohorts of the suspected “Drug Queen” who is currently the target of a police operation have already been arrested by members of the NCRPO Regional Drug Enforcement Unit, Eleazar added.
Eleazar yesterday reminded all chiefs of different NCRPO drug enforcement units of his “one-strike policy” on drug irregularities and “zero-tolerance” for Ninja Cops.
The official also laid down procedures which should be followed in drug operations including the arrest of target drug personalities during his meeting with the chiefs of the NCRPO-RDEU, the five NCPRO District DEUs and the 38 Station DEUs at the NCRPO headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, is calling for a congressional inquiry into the failure of the PNP to stop or arrest the 15 so-called ninja cops and a “drug queen,” a local politician whose network allegedly sells P13.6 million worth of shabu in just two of Manila’s streets weekly.
Barbers questioned why the police allows the drug queen and her police allies to continue to trade drugs despite the total drug war.
“We could only surmise that the drug queen and her ninja cop minions have powerful and influential connections or protectors, the reason why they are brave enough to continue with their illicit drug trade under the present dispensation,” Barbers said.
“Para na lang tayong naglolokohan sa isa’t isa sa ating kampanya laban sa illegal na droga kung ganito pa rin ang kasalukuyang sitwasyon sa ilang hanay ng ating kapulisan,” he added.
Reports said aside from being a politician herself, the drug queen has a lot of political connections and has a relative who is a police officer.
The solon lamented that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino that PDEA has long submitted to the PNP the reports about the identities and activities of the drug queen and her ninja cop minions but they remain un-acted upon.
The PDEA chief said the PNP already knows the identities of the rogue police officers from whom the drug queen purchases “recycled drugs” seized in operations.
According to Aquino, there were 15 original ninja cops from the Western Police District — now the Manila Police District — who have been reassigned to other districts in Metro Manila and in other provinces.
What is more worrisome, Barbers said is the report emanating from the Senate, after an executive session with former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Benjamin Magalong, that an active high-ranking PNP official is protecting his subordinates who are involved in drug trade.
With Jester P. Manalastas