>> Monday, July 28, 2008
Four other police ‘protectors’ probed: Razon sacks Dagupan cop chief in large shabu haul
By Jerry Padilla and Mydz Supnad
CAMP DIEGO SILANG, La Union – Four more policemen are being investigated for their possible involvement in the operation of a shabu laboratory discovered in Naguilian, La Union July 9 in the biggest shabu haul in the country in recent years.
Supt. Jane Aunzo, Ilocos regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency however, didn’t disclose names of the four cops pending the probe.
Supt, Dionisio Borromeo, who was relieved as police chief of Dagupan City, is also under investigation after an arrested caretaker of the shabu lab tagged him as the one who allegedly looked for the warehouse in Barangay Bimmotobot where the illegal facility was put up.
Investigators have found strong evidence that would warrant the filing of charges against Borromeo, Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said in Camp Oscar Florendo in San Fernando City, La Union.
A ranking official of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said probers have at least five witnesses who implicated Borromeo in the operations of the shabu lab.
“We have collated all the evidence and we are now evaluating all of them,” said the CIDG official.
Borromeo was summoned at press time to the CIDG headquarters to give his side on the allegations against him. He denied the accusations and promised to answer them “to clear my name at the proper forum.”
Aunzo said there would be no whitewash in the investigation even if policemen were implicated in the shabu lab’s operations.
Seized from the lab were six truckloads of chemicals and equipment that can produce shabu worth about a trillion pesos.
Razon said Tuesday he has ordered a rigid probe on the discovered shabu laboratory including Borromeo among other officials acting as protectors of those operating it. Razon bared this to newsmen saying he ordered the relief of Borromeo who was tagged as an alleged protector of the shabu laboratory.
Razon tasked Chief Sup.Raul Castañeda, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, to personally lead the investigation into the allegation of shabu lab caretaker Dante Palaganas that Borromeo was the one who looked for the warehouse in Barangay Binmotobot, Naguilian where the shabu lab was put up.
Chief Supt.Romeo Hilomen, Ilocos regional police director, said the investigation stemmed from Palaganas’ allegation that Borromeo was part of their operations.
Following his administrative relief from his post, Borromeo was reportedly assigned to the PNP-Holding and Accounting Unit at Camp Crame in Quezon City to pave the way for the investigation.
Supt. Sonny Verzosa replaced Borromeo as Dagupan City police chief. Razon said a Task Force was formed to look into the possible involvement of other police officials. “I think meron pang iba (there are others) so we ordered a deeper probe.”
Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr., chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council in the Ilocos region, said being one of the authors of the Dangerous Drugs Act and himself a retired police colonel, he was concerned about it considering the volume uncovered.
Razon said he is also looking into the connections of the discovered shabu laboratory in Real, Quezon recently and the Naguilian shabu laboratory.
Meanwhile, Dagupan City Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr. said he was surprised and downhearted when Borromeo was administratively relieved from his post pending the investigation.
Fernandez said Borromeo performed well as police chief, especially in the anti-illegal drug campaign but if a police officer is linked to illegal drugs, “that is the worst involvement.”
Hilomen meanwhile warned constituents on proliferation of illegal drugs like shabu saying if there is something strange in a neighborhood like a disgusting smell similar to rotten egg, methane or ammonia, they should call the police.
He added a foul smell led police to the clandestine shabu laboratory in Naguilian. Hilomen said drug syndicates usually run shabu labs near a hog or poultry farm to avoid detection.
“They would say it’s just a piggery farm,” he said.
Hilomen said an asset of Senior Supt. Noli Taliño, La Union police director, reported the strange odor in Barangay Binmotobot, prompting police to conduct surveillance.
Hilomen said a foul smell also led to the recent discovery of another shabu lab in Real, Quezon which, along with another illegal facility in Laguna, yielded shabu chemicals worth about P300 million.
Three Chinese and two Taiwanese nationals and a Filipino were arrested in the twin raids.
He said the suspects there could be operating other shabu labs in the Ilocos region.
Intelligence reports said the Naguilian lab had produced about 100 kilos of shabu from May to July last year. – With reports from Jerry Padilla, Mydz Supnad and Jennelyn Mondejar