MANILA – The arraignment of Maj. Rodney Baloyo IV, one of the so-called “ninja cops”, was postponed on Friday following the suspension of court proceedings due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“The hearing has been canceled. No notice yet from the court when the arraignment will be reset” said Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez, a member of the prosecution team handling the case of the “ninja cops” accused of recycling back to the market illegal drugs seized in drug raids.
Baloyo’s 11 co-accused former and current officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were arraigned last March 6.
He was supposed to be arraigned before the San Fernando, Pampanga Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 44 for violating of Republic Act (RA) 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly, Section 27, Article II for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs; Section 29, Article II, planting of evidence; and Section 92, Article XI, delay and bungling in the prosecution of drugs cases; and qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The group is accused of only declaring having seized 36.6 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, and PHP300,000 when they actually recovered 200 kilos of shabu, PHP10 million, and a Toyota Fortuner.
They also allegedly filed false charges against Chinese national Ding Wenkun instead of Lee.
Capt. Joven de Guzman Jr., Master Sergeants Jules Maniago, Donald Roque, Ronald Santos, Rommel Vital, Alcindor Tinio and Eligio Valeroso; Staff Sergeants Dante Dizon, Dindo Dizon, Gilbert de Vera, and Romeo Guerrero pleaded not guilty to charges of misappropriation of dangerous drugs; planting of evidence; delay and bungling in the prosecution of drug cases; qualified bribery and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 44.
Santos and Guerrero also pleaded not guilty to violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, specifically Section 32 that provides penalties for violation of a Dangerous Drugs Board regulation.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) had conducted the re-investigation of the complaint that was filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
The case involves the illegal drug operations in Mexico, Pampanga where a team led by Baloyo was supposed to have arrested suspected drug trader Johnson Lee.
The panel charged the police officers with the violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly, Section 27, Article II for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs; Section 29, Article II, planting of evidence; and Section 92, Article XI, delay and bungling in the prosecution of drugs cases.
The accused were also charged with qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code.
Aside from these, Guerrero and Santos were charged with violating regulations issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board regarding the chain of custody of evidence; falsification by a public officer against Baloyo who made untruthful statements in his spot report and progress report regarding the operation; and false testimony and perjury in solemn affirmation against Santos and Guerrero who made untruthful statements in their affidavit of arrest against Chinese national Ding Wenkun.
The DOJ panel previously found that the 12 accused “misappropriated drugs when they declared that only 36.60 kilograms of shabu were seized during their operations, while the subsequent police investigation indicated that about 200 kilos methamphetamine hydrochloride was actually recovered”.
It added that some of the respondents were also found to have failed to declare and account for a Toyota Fortuner vehicle which was also seized during the operation.
The panel also found that the policemen “illegally arrested one Ding Wenkun instead of Johnson Lee from whom they seized the drugs” and “implicated or imputed upon Wenkun the crime of illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs despite their knowledge that it was Lee who should be charged”. (PNA)