No way to go for drug-using cops but out -- Gamboa

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has ordered a thorough study on why there are drug-using policemen in the police force which has a strict ‘zero tolerance’ policy when it comes to policemen who will be found to be positive for substance abuse, the Journal Group learned.

The study is being undertaken by the Center for Police Strategy Management headed by Brigadier Gen. Sterling Blanco and will focus on drug-using police officers and men in the country and what led them to be hooked into shabu or marijuana.

The study will concentrate on the policemen’s family, education, work exposure, neighborhood, assignment and colleagues as well as other support system and external environment which prompted them to use drugs.

National Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Debold M. Sinas last week ordered the administrative relief and investigation of 11 Metro Manila police anti-narcotics agents who suddenly went absent during a series of surprise drug tests he ordered.

Eight of the 11 are all Police Corporals assigned with the Northern Police District Drug Enforcement Unit while the three others are also all with the rank of Corporal and assigned respectively with the DEUs of the Manila Police District, Southern Police District and the Quezon City Police District.

Sinas ordered the transfer of the 11 to the NCRPO Regional Personnel Holding Administrative Section and the filing of administrative charges for gross insubordination against them after they were found to be all absent during the conduct of a random drug test at the NCRPO headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City and during an NCRPO DEU Workshop last January 25-26.

The NCRPO chief earlier said that one of the 357 policemen ordered adjudicated by Gen. Gamboa had tested positive for use of shabu and will be subjected to summary dismissal proceedings.

He identified the cop as Staff Sergeant Ronald Carpio, one of the 31 NCRPO members included in the list of 357. The cop was ordered disarmed by Sinas.

Another NCRPO officer, Lieutenant Rodel Torres of the Muntinlupa City Police Station also tested positive for substance abuse during a drug test last February 19 and was also disarmed and transferred to the NCRPO-RPHAS.

Sinas said that the urine sample of the two policemen tested positive for shabu during an initial screening and later, a confirmatory test conducted by the NCRPO Regional Crime Laboratory Office headed by Lieutenant Colonel Ruby Diangson.

The NCRPO chief said they are giving the drug-positive policemen the chance to defend themselves. However, he said that it would be very hard for them to contest the result of the screening test and the subsequent confirmatory test using the PNP Crime Laboratory Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer or GCMS equipment.

From October last year to date, Sinas said that around 6,000 Metro Manila policemen have been subjected to surprise drug testing.  Gen. Gamboa has emphasized that all policemen who will test positive for substance abuse will be fired from the police force since the PNP has no room for drug-using personnel.

Records showed that from July 2016 to December 23, 2019, a total of 389 policemen were fired from the police force after they tested positive for illegal drugs. Another 101 were dismissed for their involvement in illegal drug-related cases.

Since Gen. Gamboa took hold of the top PNP post last October 14 to date, he has ordered the dismissal of 24 policemen who were either tested positive for drug use and were found involved in illegal drug activities.

As of yesterday, the PNP National Adjudication Board is still continuing to hear the case of the policemen in the national drug watch list.  Of the 357, one is already dead, 15 have requested to be allowed to avail of optional retirement, 43 are currently on AWOL (Absence Without Official Leave) status.

Gen. Gamboa said that some of the 357 are also set to compulsorily retire from the service at the age of 56. The 43 others who went on AWOL will be tried separately for their latest administrative offense.

He added that it is upon the 43 to prove why they failed to report to Camp Crame despite due notice. He said that usually, an erring cop’s alibi in case he fails to heed a summon is that he got sick or due to medical reason but he must be able to present a proof within 24 hours or be marked AWOL.

The PNP chief refused to identify those in the list, saying he is not into the habit of embarrassing his men and their families.