THE recent killing of a police superintendent tagged as a ‘Ninja Cop’ is another stern warning to rogues in uniform to mend their ways or end up six feet underground should they resist arrest and shoot it out with arresting officers, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said yesterday.
The PNP chief was referring to the case of Supt. Santiago Rapiz, a policeman included in the ‘narco-list’ of President Duterte where he was killed in a gunbattle with agents of the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force headed by Senior Supt. Romeo M. Caramat Jr. in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, on Monday last week.
“That incident should serve as a lesson and game changer for others like him who refuse to toe the line and continue to betray the public trust with their criminal ways. There will be no let-up and no sacred cows in this campaign,” Gen. Albayalde told the Journal Group.
The PNP chief also said that the Dipolog City operation is a proof that the PNP internal cleansing program continues to gain ground in ridding the organization of criminal elements and undesirables.
Caramat himself vowed a stepped-up crackdown against so-called ‘Ninja Cops,’ the name given to rogue policemen who are known for protecting drug syndicates or are themselves recycling and selling shabu seized from drug traffickers.
The PNP-CITF director said that as of press time, they are conducting follow-up investigation and operations to identify more associates of Rapiz, the highest-ranked policeman killed in a buy-bust.
“We are in the process of identifying his (Rapiz) accomplices. Marami pang mga follow-up yan na mangyayari sa mga kapwa niya mga opisyal din,” the official told the Journal Group. These ‘Ninja Cops’ were believed to have returned to their old ways after a brief lull, thinking that they are not being watched by their fellows.
“Marami pa kaming targets and are just waiting for the right time to neutralize these police officers through buy-busts or service of search warrants,” he said. PNP-CITF men are under orders to defend themselves in case their targets refused to yield peacefully and ought to fight it out with them. Caramat however asked that other details of their ongoing operations be withheld for the moment while information against their targets are still being validated thoroughly by his men with the help of the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Chief Supt. Edmund A. Gonzales.
Rapiz is one of the policemen who was transferred from Iloilo City to Western Mindanao after he was included in President Duterte’s drug list.
Caramat said that they conducted the operation to neutralize Rapiz in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chaired by Director General Aaron N. Aquino and the Police Regional Office 9 headed by Chief Supt. Emmanuel Luis D. Licup amid persistent reports that the subject police commissioned officer remained involved in illegal drug trafficking in Western Mindanao.
Before the gunfight broke out, Camarat said the suspect had just sold P50,000 worth of shabu to an undercover officer but apparently sensed he was being entrapped and tried to escape. When cornered, the suspect refused to surrender and instead fired his pistol at the PNP-CITF commandos who were forced to retaliate killing him on the spot.
Recovered from the slain officer’s possession were a chamber-loaded caliber .45 pistol and several plastic sachets containing around 25 grams of shabu.
Caramat said Supt. Rapiz is one of the police commissioned officers tagged as a ‘Ninja Cop’ in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ‘narco-list.’
He said that the policeman’s involvement in illegal drugs was confirmed in the affidavit of Ricky Sereno, a known drug trafficker in Negros Occidental who was arrested in an anti-narcotics operation by the PDEA. The slain officer was reportedly received P700,000 in weekly protection money.
Rapiz was also identified as one of the drug protectors of the late Melvin Odicta, a suspected Iloilo City drug lord who was killed along with his wife on April 29, 2016 by still unidentified armed men.
Rapiz, who entered the police force via Lateral Entry in 2001 became the 9th policeman to be killed in a gunfight with PNP-CITF. Caramat’s men have also jailed 16 active policemen found to be involved in different criminal activities including ‘hulidap’ and ‘bangketa’ crimes, robbery-extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom.