PROBE STARTS TODAY
Lawyer to demand complaint, other documents, evidence
As the probe into 18 police officers who are allegedly drug coddlers, starts today, two of them, who were previously assigned in Cebu at Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), have threatened to file a P10 million damage suit against Franz Sabalones, the alleged drug lord who implicated them.
Superintendents Rex Derilo and George Ylanan, who were among those identified as drug protectors by Sabalones, flew to Manila to attend the 9 a.m. hearing at Camp Crame, said their lawyer Inocencio De La Cerna Jr.
Both police officials were assigned in Cebu for over a decade before they were transferred by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to Mindanao last July on accusations of coddling drug personalities.
“I want the investigation to be finished immediately so that the truth will come out,” de la Cerna told Cebu Daily News.
The lawyer said they will demand a copy of the complaint, affidavits and other evidence, saying this is due process and that they must be afforded their right.
“I have to put in the minds of the public that allegations are not evidence. They have to go through the crucible of truth which can only be done in court. That’s what due process of law dictates,” he added.
The PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to lead the investigation against the police officers who were identified by Sabalones as his protectors.
The proceedings, De la Cerna said, is likely not open for media coverage.
Sabalones, a native of San Fernando town, south Cebu, squealed on his protectors after he surrendered to Dela Rosa last Aug. 7. His surrender was brought about by the inclusion of his brother, San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones, in the first list of drug coddlers and druglords by President Rodrigo Duterte, an allegation the vice mayor vehemently denied.
“Unsa may iyang (Franz Sabalones) mabuhat (what can he do) but to save himself, mao nang pataka na lang og tumotumo og pasangil nang tawhana (that is why he will rant lies),” de la Cerna said.
De la Cerna, the legal counsel of Derilo and Ylanan, said his clients were dumbfounded when they heard about Sabalones’s drug matrix.
“We don’t even know who the complainant was. That’s why I will request the investigating body to furnish us with all the documents, testimonies of witnesses, affidavits, and other materials before we will formally answer the accusations,” he said.
“Kung ang matrix lang ang basihan (If the matrix is the only basis), it does not hold water because mere allegation is not evidence. So I would move that the case be dismissed and my clients must be cleared,” the lawyer said.
“Being their lawyer, I will do my best to defend the interest of my clients and clear their names the soonest possible time. The accusations have not only affected them but their families and relatives as well,” he added.
After his clients are cleared, de la Cerna said they will file a P10 million damage suit and criminal cases of libel, perjury and falsification against Sabalones and anyone who “orchestrated” the allegations of involvement in illegal drugs by his clients.
“Since day one, after 18-20 years of service in the PNP, my clients have no stain of any graft and corruption. It is only now, and it comes from a drug lord, and they believe it right away,” de la Cerna said in Cebuano.
Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said cases should already be filed against the police officers so that they can have the opportunity for formally present their side on the issue.
“I think it’s about time that cases be filed, firstly, to give these police officers the opportunity to present their side.
There should be proper investigation but it should not end there. We should give the due process considering that this is a very serious allegation,” said Labella.
Labella added: “I think one of the reasons why we find the problem of illegal drugs difficult and has reached alarming proportions is because of the involvement of certain public officials and police officers who are supposed to uphold the law by arresting those who break the law.”
Labella also urged the Office of the Ombudsman to take heed of the pronouncements and conduct their own investigation.
In particular, Labella said the Ombudsman has its Military and Other Law Enforcement Office (MOLEO) which can probe these police officers.
The National Police Commission (Napolcom) can also look into the administrative aspect of the issue, he added.
A drug matrix shown by UNTV included the names of Derilo, the former chief of the Regional Intelligence Division of PRO-7; Ylanan, chief of the Special Operations Group (RSOG-7), and Supt. Teodulfo Manatad, the former chief of the Carcar City Police Office.
The matrix was provided by Sabalones.
The payola ranging from P1,000 to P150,000 a week was reportedly delivered to the policemen and an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency named Joel Bersales through Sabalones’s cook, colleagues in the gym, billiard buddies, and neighbors who served as his bagmen.
Sabalones allegedly had a weekly budget of P507,000 as protection money given to police officers and a PDEA agent.
Based on the matrix, Derilo allegedly received his payola from SP02 Brazilio Borinaga, supposedly a policeman assigned at PRO-7’s Intelligence Division, who in turn got it from Sabalones’s co-billiard player surnamed Ababon.
Ylanan, on the other hand, was allegedly receiving payola through Ababon who would hand the money to a lower ranking policeman, identified as P03 Roderick Ybañez, who would in turn give it to Ylanan.
Another policeman allegedly receiving protection money from Ababon was SP02 Oneil Nabua, whose name was already included in the list of narco policemen earlier announced by President Duterte.
Another name in the matrix was P01 Percival Eborlas who was allegedly receiving a weekly payola of P1,000.
Eborlas was among the seven policemen from Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) intelligence branch who were investigated last February for allegedly releasing two suspected drug personalities in exchange for P150,000.
The other policemen named on the matrix were PO1 Dave Agcol, who was killed in a shootout with police in Naga City last month, and his wife PO1 Marie Agcol.
Both Derilo and Ylanan denied the accusations against them.
“I will never do such a thing. First and foremost, Franz is one of our priority targets. We have arrested and neutralized many of his men. Do you think he will still give me protection money?” Derilo said in a phone interview yesterday.
“If you implicate anyone, people will always believe. But I categorically deny such allegations. I’ve never been involved in illegal drugs. I won’t do anything to sacrifice the reputation and respect I established for 18 years,” he said.
Derilo said he’s ready to face the investigation to prove his innocence.
He said he brought with him to Camp Crame supporting documents that would show he is not a protector of Sabalones.
“I’m here to clear my name and clarify the truth. I’m not hiding anything. I’m willing to undergo an investigation,” said Derilo who spoke from Camp Crame.
He expressed dismay over the publication of his alleged involvement in illegal drugs in the media.
“Medyo nasakitan lang ko. Morag trial by publicity ang nahitabo kay nigawas sa media. It’s very unfair to me. (I’m a bit hurt. This is like trial by publicity especially that the allegations were published in the media. It’s very unfair to me,” Derilo said.
He said his family was badly affected by the accusations against him.
“Damage has been done. The accusations against me are seen throughout the Cebu media. The people greatly affected by this are members of my family. Do you think after all these things, my reputation can still be repaired? Damage has already been done,” Derilo said.
“If this is what I get after serving the people of Cebu, I’ll accept this. What is important is I was able to deliver. I operated against illegal drugs,” he added.
Ylanan, for his part, said he didn’t stay at PRO-7 for a long time, and that he was chief of RSOG for just two months.
“I was at PRO-7 for just five months, and then I was relieved,” he said in a text message to GMA-7.
He refused to answer queries from other media outfits. Cebu Daily News also tried but failed to reach Manatad through his phone.
PRO-7 director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño said he hasn’t seen Sabalones’s drug matrix.
“Honestly, I have not seen it. I’ll wait for Camp Crame on what PRO-7 can do about it,” he said.
Asked if he was surprised about Sabalones’s revelations, Taliño paused, smiled, and said: “Of course. But then again, here is another set of policemen who were accused of being drug protectors.”
“They will have their time in court or any other proper forum. They will be given the chance to answer the allegations of Sabalones,” he said.
Last July 15, PNP Chief Dela Rosa ordered the immediate relief of Derilo, Ylanan, and three other colonels.
Derilo was transferred to the Zamboanga Peninsula police office, while Ylanan was assigned to northern Mindanao.
Derilo and Ylanan led the team that killed Central Visayas’ number druglord Jaguar Diaz in Las Piñas City last June 17. /With a report from Jose Santino S. Bunachita
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