Protection for witnesses vs ‘ninja cops’ sought

SENATE Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon confirmed that he requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to perpetuate the testimonies of the police officers in Mexico, Pampanga and some barangay officials who testified against Major Rodney Baloyo and the 12 other policemen who conducted a drug buy bust in 2013.

Gordon said he also stressed to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra the need to protect the other witnesses in the Senate probe into the issue of drug recycling.

The senator explained that perpetuation of testimony means preservation of testimony for possible use in future litigation by taking the deposition of a witness as a safeguard against possible death or incompetency of a witness.

Gordon was referring to PSSG Jerome Bugarin, PSSG Marlon dela Cruz, and PSSG Jackson Mariano who testified in the Senate that Baloyo and his men presented a different “Johnson Lee” at a press conference held after the allegedly illegal drug raid.

“Mas kailangan ng protection ang mga witnesses. And I want their testimonies perpetuated,” Gordon said in a phone patch interview.

“They will go to court with their affidavit, so that in case something happens (to them)—and hopefully not—that would be admissible in court,” Gordon said.

The senator said the testimony of the Mexico cops prove there was a grand cover up on the part of Baloyo.

Earlier, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong expressed concern that the lawmen involved in the drug buy bust are at risk of being assassinated by people who want to stop the probe.

“Anything can happen. They can easily hire guns for hire. They have the money and the contacts,” Magalong said.

But Gordon said he was more concerned over the safety and security of the witnesses than the so-called ninja cops, echoing Magalong’s remark that the 13 lawmen should defend themselves.