21 Cops probed in ‘shabu tiangge’ case

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A POLICE colonel and 20 officers and men of the Pasig City Police Station are being investigated for their involvement in the operations of the shabu ‘‘tiangge’’ discovered in Pasig City.

The shabu “tiangge,” said operating for a number of years already, was smashed last February 10 this year, by agents of the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, headed by former PNP Director Marcelo S. Ele, Jr., now a top national security official.

NCRPO intelligence chief, Senior Supt. Felipe Rojas, who asked Camp Crame newsmen to temporarily withhold the names of the 21 police officers, said they were accused of giving protection as well as benefiting from the proceeds of the sale of the dangerous drugs at the Pasig City flea market.

Last Tuesday, National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Amin Imam Boratong, the alleged maintainer-owner of the shabu tiangge. Boratong was nabbed with his second wife in Makati City.

In a press briefing at Camp Crame, Roxas said the 21 police officers were implicated by Boratong’s right hand man identified as Samir Palau. Palau is now being held at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame after he turned state witness.

Roxas disclosed that 15 of the Pasig City policemen have been transferred to the NCRPO headquarters support group while the rest were either reassigned with the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Police Regional Office 4-A or the PNP Administrative Holding Center in Camp Crame.

Rojas showed reporters the list of the policemen being investigated but asked that their names be withheld pending the outcome of the investigation.

“If evidence so warrant, they face criminal and administrative prosecution and could be meted life imprisonment if found guilty, ” the NCRPO intelligence chief said.

Palau had claimed that the policemen either did not conduct a raid while the shabu ‘tiangge’ was in existence, covered up the cases or served as its protectors.

“Each had a different degree of participation as claimed by Palau. But so far, the lone witness has yet to implicate local government officials, including Mayor (Vicente) Eusebio,” according to Rojas.
One of the policemen being probed shrugged off Palau’s allegations, saying the charges against him are baseless.

“His (Palau’s) accusations are impossible, possibly exaggerated. We are innocent here but we are being made as sacrificial lambs,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Rojas said they are also investigating one “Attorney Castillo” whom Palau tagged as the one “mediating” for the release of a drug suspect caught in the shabu flea market.

According to Rojas, Palau claimed he was the one delivering the protection money to the policemen. The “hush money” reached as high as P300,000 a week.

“But we are not swallowing Palau ’s story hook, line and sinker. We are still validating Palau’s allegations against the 21 policemen. In fact, one of the 21 cops had not been formally charged yet,” he said.

Boratong was tagged as the alleged owner of the compound which housed 30 to 40 shabu dens. Boratong, who reportedly underwent cosmetic surgery to alter his nose and eyes in Thailand and changed his name to Johnny Dizon, was arrested by NBI agents led by lawyers Ruel Lasala and Roel Bolivar inside his unit on the 36th floor of the Salcedo Park Condominium in Makati City at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The NBI also arrested Boratong’s second wife, Sheryl Molera, 22, in a condominium unit on the 21st floor of Shang Grand Tower in Makati City.

Both of them face criminal charges for maintaining a drug den, a non-bailable offense punishable by life imprisonment under RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.