QC cops used shabu in court compound? Sandiganbayan elevates it to Dela Rosa

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has referred to the Philippine National Police (PNP) an incident involving two Quezon City policemen who allegedly used illegal drugs inside the court compound earlier this week.

Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang referred the incident in a letter to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa dated August 24, which was released to reporters on Friday, August 25.

"We are transmitting herewith a copy of the Court's CCTV footage taken from its premises in the evening of August 22, 2017, up to the early hours of August 23, 2017, which suggests the possible illicit activity committed by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) inside their police patrol car, with body number 'QC-57' for your information and appropriate action," Tang wrote Dela Rosa.

Tang refused to release to media the CCTV footage and the incident report prepared by the court's security team which were provided to the PNP chief.

Media reports earlier quoted Sandiganbayan insiders as saying that CCTV footage show two QCPD cops allegedly repacking shabu inside their patrol car while parked inside the Sandiganbayan compound on Tuesday, August 22.

Reporters covering the Sandiganbayan beat learned that a QCPD police mobile entered the court compound past 8 pm on Tuesday and stayed there until the early hours of Wednesday, August 23.

By Wednesday afternoon, the same police car, with body number #57 and under Station 6, was seen arriving at Sandiganbayan. Two cops were brought to the sheriff's office.

Eating peanuts?

When Rappler tried to confirm the incident, the QCPD chief said the policemen were accused of using shabu and not repacking the illegal substance.

Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said he ordered a drug test on the two policemen whom he refused to name, but the tests were negative.

"Pina-drug test ko na, 'yung nabibili sa pharmacy – 4 – nagnegative. Pinadala ko na rin sa crime lab para official, negative din," Eleazar told Rappler Wednesday night, the day he ordered the drug test.

(I had them take 4 drug tests with kits you buy from the pharmacy, and they were negative. Then I sent them to the crime lab to make it official, and it also came back negative.)

Eleazar said he sent the Station 6 investigator to Sandiganbayan to watch the footage.

"Ang nakita nila, mani 'yung kinakain, hindi shabu (What they saw was that the cops were eating peanuts, not taking shabu)," Eleazar said.

Asked to comment on Tang's move to refer the incident to the PNP leadership, instead of the QCPD, Eleazar said he welcomed the move.

It is not normal for a car to enter the court premises after office hours, let alone stay there for hours. But according to Eleazar, the two policemen explained that they were on roving duty when it rained and needed to rest.

The QCPD chief said that as it stands now, he will not order any disciplinary action against the two policemen.

The incident comes amid criticism of police abuse in the war on drugs following the killing of teenager Kian delos Santos in an operation in Caloocan City.

Eleazar said he had always encouraged the public to report alleged abuse of QC cops.

"I always appeal to people to support us and report to me when there are erring cops. Ito na siguro 'yung resulta ng ganoon (this is probably the result of that)," Eleazar said. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.