THAT’S the 64-dollar question which is yet to be answered by government law enforcement authorities as they race against time to account for the suspected drug lord who was reportedly freed by the group of demoted police official Rodney Baloyo after paying them millions in cash during an anti-narcotics operation in Pampanga in 2013.
Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bureau of Immigration are now on the lookout for Lee hoping to question him regarding the controversial 2013 anti-drug operation which is now haunting PNP chief General Oscar D. Albayalde.
“We would like to question him, that is if he is still alive, so that we can get a much clearer picture of what happened on that fateful day,” said a security official involved in the operation. He added that they are coordinating with their foreign counterparts including the Korean Embassy to identify the man since he has been identified as a Korean national.
The official who demanded anonymity said that since Lee has been tagged as the main source of the multi-kilos of shabu reportedly confiscated by the group of then Superintendent Baloyo, they want to ask him if he really paid millions of pesos to the rogue policemen to allow him to escape.
“Naturally, he won’t be incriminating himself but we want to get some answers if he is really still alive and we can track him down if he is still here in the country,” said the official.
Lee cannot be arrested since the group of Baloyo who was demoted to the rank of Police Major as a result of the highly-irregular anti-drug operation did not file any criminal case against him and instead, the policemen arrested a Chinese national named Ding Wenkun and presented him to the press as the owner of the 38 kilograms of shabu they recovered.
Investigators are checking the immigration records of all persons with the name “Johnson Lee” in the wake of the controversy.
Baloyo and 12 of his men were accused of declaring only 38 kilos of the so-called poor man’s cocaine during the raid although officials believe they actually recovered more than 200 kilos of the drug worth around P1 billion that year.
The Pampanga policemen were accused of letting Lee escape after they were paid P50 million by the suspect. The suspect who fled the scene without a shirt was accosted by local barangay authorities who summoned some policemen not involved in the operation.
In turn, the three policemen returned the man to the custody of Baloyo and his men. The three told senators last Thursday that the man presented during a press conference was not the foreigner they turned over to Baloyo’s group.
Baloyo’s group claimed they arrested Ding Wenkun and one Roel Cabag during the multi-million-peso drug raid. However, a Pampanga Regional Trial Court on March 27, 2018 dismissed the charges filed against Wenkun and Cabag for insufficiency of evidence as it cited the grave error committed by the arresting officers during the operation.
The statement of Wenkun who was released from prison on April 17, 2018 would also be vital in the reopening of the case against Baloyo et al.
Cabag has already died reportedly due to acute coronary syndrome. Some personalities linked to the operation also were reported to have died already.