The price to pay to discipline police

September 23, 2018

ALTHOUGH nine of their colleagues have been killed and 17 others are now in jail for involvement in different criminal activities and grave misconduct since PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde took over his post last April 19, it seems that more needs to be done by our good cops to catch more police scalawags and prevent them from victimizing more innocent Filipinos.

Honestly, some bad eggs in the police force seemed to be lending deaf ears to Gen. Albayalde’s never-ending message that rogues in uniform will be met with deadly force once they offer an armed resistance. A few weeks ago, three so-called ‘Ninja’ cops were killed during separate encounters with agents of the PNP-Counter-Intelligence Task Force.

The PNP internal cleansing program is also unrelenting and has been targeting all those who are in their rogues list although some have been telling me that there were some names which were not included in the list, some of them already retired police officials known for the shady activities of their men during their prime. This is really a concern of some friends in the police force although that would be another story.

Come to think of it, since July 1, 2016, a total of 6,996 policemen were charged administratively or criminally for their involvement in different shenanigans. Another 1,800 rogues in uniform were also dismissed from July 1, 2016 to date, my friend Gen. Albayalde told me. Add to that the list of crooks in uniform that have been killed in PNP-CITF-led entrapment operations as well as those arrested for ‘hulidap’ and ‘bangketa’ activities, robbery-extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom since last June.

Yesterday, I was roused from my sleep by a text message from my friend, PNP-CITF director, Senior Superintendent Romeo ‘Bong’ Caramat Jr. of PMA Class 1992. It turned out that Caramat’s men led by his deputy, Supt.   Joel Estaris have arrested  Supt. Juwen dela Cruz, the chief of the Bocaue Municipal Police Station in Bulacan for extortion.

Dela Cruz, a veteran Central Luzon police officer is now the highest-ranked police official jailed at the PNP-CITF detention facility in Camp Crame. I learned that the official was placed under arrest after he received an IPhone X worth P75,000 from a complainant.

The crime committed by dela Cruz: keeping the motor vehicles of arrested drug offenders and using them for other purpose which is a gross violation of existing police regulations and demanding huge amount of money from the suspects and their relatives in exchange for the release of the motor vehicles.

I’d like to really commend Caramat and his men and the PNP Intelligence Group headed by my basketball teammate, Chief Supt. Egay Gonzales for working closely to put the rogue cop in jail. Kudos also to Central Luzon police director, Chief Supt. Amador Corpus for immediately giving the nod to the sting. The operation actually went smoothly, without any leaks unlike in the past wherein targets of entrapment managed to get away apparently after being given tips by insiders.

Both Caramat, himself a former Bulacan police director and Estaris, also a former Bulacan police official said that the arrest of dela Cruz is a turning point, actually a ‘wake-up call’ for the police force.  Estaris told me that it seemed that the entire Bocaue police force could do nothing against dela Cruz until they came.

It turned out that dela Cruz was the subject of numerous complaints being sent to PNP Text 2920 as well as information being forwarded to the PNP-CITF and PNP-IG.  Caramat said the arrest of dela Cruz was made after a walk-in complainant surfaced at their office and reported that the Mitsubishi Montero of their brother who was arrested by the Bocaue police for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 was seized by the arresting officers and placed under the custody of de la Cruz.

However, the complainant said that they discovered that their brother’s SUV was being used for police operations and personal travel of the arrested police official who also did not include it in their inventory of confiscated drug evidence. Caramat told me that they found out that the Bocaue police chief was asking a ransom in the form of an IPhone X worth P75,000 in exchange for the release of the SUV.

Caramat said that dela Cruz was using the same modus operandi to extort money from his victims.  In fact, his recovered one Mitsubishi Montero, one Toyota Vios, one Toyota Wigo and two motorcycles which were found to be not included in the inventory of vehicle evidence seized by the Bocaue police during past anti-drug raids and buy-bust operations. The white Vios was discovered to have been seized by the local police last year, Estaris told me.

Dela Cruz will be facing criminal and administrative charges that will cause his dismissal from the police force, bereft of any benefits should he be found guilty. To the uninitiated, there is a very strict PNP policy which prohibits the use of motor vehicles recovered during the conduct of any anti-crime operation. Only the court too can order the vehicle’s release to their rightful owner.

Prior to the arrest of Supt. dela Cruz, Caramat and I were discussing the arrest of Police Officer 1 Alexis Domingo of the Northern Police District Drug Enforcement Unit on Friday afternoon.  Estaris also led the arrest of PO1 Domingo who was accused of extortion by the family of a drug inmate during an entrapment operation conducted right inside the NPD-DEU office.

Apparently, there has been a lull in the reporting of illegal police activities over the past few weeks.  But despite that, the PNP-CITF is not sleeping in its job. In the case of PO1 Domingo, he apparently thought that police were very busy securing the streets during the commemoration of martial law last Friday.

Thus, after getting an initial P3,000, he sought another P6,000 from the sister of a detained drug suspect in exchange for his help in transferring the suspect from the NPD jail to the more comfortable city jail. That was the end of PO1 Domingo’s luck as he found himself in handcuffs during the PNP-CITF sting made in coordination with NCRPO chief, Director Gilor Eleazar. As Gen. Albayalde had said: there will be no let-up and no sacred cows in our campaign against rogues in the organization. The series of counter-intelligence operations really should serve as a lesson and game changer for others who refuse to toe the line and continue to betray the public trust with their criminal ways.

Yes Gen. Albayalde: ‘you discipline the police force, you discipline the entire country.’