Abalos on ‘shabu’ mess: Videos don’t lie
MANILA, Philippines — Saying videos don’t lie, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos defended his decision to publicly speak up about the alleged involvement of high-ranking police officials in a supposed cover-up of irregularities committed in the October 2022 drug raid—touted as the Philippine National Police’s biggest accomplishment.
“In law, there is the principle of res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. The video in itself is a statement of what transpired,” Abalos said in a statement on Tuesday.
Some police officials, including PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., earlier said it was “very unfair” to link the names of several police personnel, including two generals, to a “massive” attempt to cover up alleged irregularities committed in the raid that led to the seizure of over a ton of “shabu” and an attempt to pilfer several kilos of the haul.
“While I respect General Azurin, I am sure he agrees with me that the public deserves to know the truth not only [about] the pilfered 42 kilos of shabu, but most importantly what happened to the more than 900 kilos of shabu that were seized,” Abalos said.
In a press briefing on April 10, he ordered the 10 PNP officials caught on a closed-circuit TV camera outside the Wealth and Personal Development Lending Inc. (WPDLI) office in Tondo, Manila, where the drugs had been found, to go on leave. The WPDLI was owned by dismissed Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo Jr., an intelligence officer of the Drug Enforcement (DEG) Unit’s Special Operations Unit in the National Capital Region.
Abalos noted that based on the CCTV footage, the DEG already had Mayo in its custody even before the operation, contrary to its report that he was arrested a day after the raid during a hot pursuit operation in Quiapo, Manila.
He also directed the National Police Commission, where he sits as ex officio chair, to conduct an investigation because of the slow progress being made in a separate probe being done by the PNP’s Special Investigation Task Group 990.
At a press briefing in Camp Crame on Monday, Azurin categorically denied any attempt to cover up or exculpate Mayo of any involvement in the illegal drug operations.
He also defended his two generals who were caught on CCTV — Lt. Gen. Benjamin Santos Jr., then the PNP deputy chief for operations and the third-highest official in the police force; and Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo, at that time the DEG director.
According to Azurin, their actions had his clearance as he vouched for their good track record.
He added that he gave the go signal for Domingo to use Mayo to catch his accomplices in follow-up operations but admitted that he was not aware of the move to make the suspect an arresting officer in another antidrug operation even though he was already in police custody.
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