Wanted: A study on why there are drug-using cops in PH

February 22, 2020

I’M saying this in the wake of revelations by my friend, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Major General Debold ‘Dodong’ Sinas that seven Metro Manila policemen have tested positive for substance abuse during separate conducts of surprise drug testing and would automatically be candidates for expulsion from the police force.

Ironically, one of them belongs to the so-called Group 357 or the 357 police officers and men who were ordered subjected to a thorough adjudication by Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Gamboa to give them a chance to prove their innocence or go on optional retirement if they know that police have the beef on them when it comes to involvement in illegal drug activities.

I also don’t know why these drug-using policemen have the gall to continue with their bad habit despite the serious campaign of President Duterte and the PNP leadership  to go after policemen who are involved directly or indirectly in illegal drug activities, including those who are using shabu, marijuana and other illegal drugs.

From October last year to date, Sinas told me that around 6,000 Metro Manila policemen have been subjected to surprise drug testing. Last month alone, Sinas said that one member of the NCRPO Regional Intelligence Division he identified as Corporal Anthony Romano tested positive for shabu use and even confessed to holding drug sessions with other police officers who are in active duty.

One of the policemen identified as Romano, Sergeant Cesar Najera of the PNP Highway Patrol Group is now under investigation. Romano also had the gall to confess that they were holding shabu sessions even in a house located just in front of the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.

During the 1st founding anniversary of the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group headed by Colonel Ronald Lee, the NCRPO director whispered to me that one of the 357 policemen ordered adjudicated by Gen. Gamboa had tested positive for use of shabu and will be immediately subjected to summary dismissal proceedings.

“We’re minus one officer already, meaning he is sure to be fired from the police force on orders of Gen. Gamboa” said the Metro Manila police director in referring to the case of the 357 policemen currently undergoing probe by the PNP National Headquarters Adjudication Board.

The official identified the drug-positive policeman as Staff Sergeant Ronald Carpio who actually was among the 31  NCRPO members included in the list of 357. Sinas told me that Carpio’s urine sample tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu during the initial screening.

The cop’s same urine sample also tested positive for shabu when subjected to a confirmatory test using the PNP Crime Laboratory Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer or GCMS equipment.

Sinas said he has ordered the disarming of Carpio and the recall of all his government issuances. I found out that Carpio was among the 31 Metro Manila policemen ordered by Gen. Gamboa to report to Camp Crame last month. However, only 22 reported while nine did not and were marked on AWOL or Absence Without Official Leave status effective last Thursday.

The NCRPO chief likewise told me that another NCRPO personnel also tested positive for substance abuse during a surprise drug test last February 19. The official identified the  drug-positive cop as Lieutenant Rodel Torres, one of the 314 personnel of the Muntinlupa City Police Station  composed of 11 Police Commissioned Officers, 294 Police Non-Commissioned Officers and nine Non-Uniformed Personnel-who were subjected to a drug screening by the NCR Regional Crime Laboratory Office headed by Lieutenant Colonel Ruby Diangson.

Out of the 314, only the submitted urine specimen of Lt. Torres tested positive for the presence of shabu during the initial screening and later, in a confirmatory test using the PNP Crime Laboratory ‘s GCMS equipment. Sinas said he has also ordered the disarming of Torres and his reassignment to the NCRPO Regional Personnel Holding Administrative Section.

The NCRPO chief also ordered the thorough questioning of Lt. Torres and SSgt. Carpio to find out the source of the drugs they were sniffing as well as their fellow users in the police force. I’m quite sure that the two will be fired from the police force since it really has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy when it comes to drug-using policemen.

However,  much has to be done by the PNP leadership to find out the real factors that prompted the two and other policemen who were fired from the police organization to commit the same offense: Were they already into drugs when they entered the force? Was it due to peer pressure? Was it due to their neighborhood? Was it due to work? Are their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and other relatives using drugs too? I’m quite sure that these drug-using policemen have different reasons which should be studies and hopefully, addressed in the future.

During the late 80s and early 90s, there have been so many stories of police undercover officers specifically from the now defunct Constabulary Narcotics Command who got addicted to drugs after they were tasked to infiltrate drug syndicates. In short, they became what we now know as deep penetration agents who helped smash a number of drug rings during those years.

However, I don’t think that the same is still being practiced today and since early 2000 haven’t received any information that police anti-narcotics agents have penetrated drug dens to join shabu sniffing sessions in order to gain the confidence of their targets. If this is really a thing of the past, it’s now the right time for Gen. Gamboa to order a  study on why over 330 PNP personnel have been tested positive for substance abuse since January 2016 to date and thus were fired from the service.

I fully agree with Gen. Sinas when he made the following statement:  “Gusto namin malaman paano ba talaga ang isang pulis nag-uumpisa na gumamit ng shabu para doon pa lang ay ma-address na namin ‘yung concern ng ibang pulis para hindi sila maging addict in the future.” This is really a great concern since a cop armed with a gun and a badge but is high on drugs is really a potent dangerous mix.