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SAF wants out of NBP

By AARON RECUENCO

Many of the convicted drug lords have been transferred out of the maximum security compound of the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP), Special Action Force (SAF) officials told Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

This is the reason why SAF requested to be relieved at the NBP, lest it be accused of its involvement in the illegal drug trade, according to Dela Rosa.

“The director of SAF had volunteered months ago to be pulled out. He told me that ‘Sir we may be placed on bad light, please pull us out, our names might be tarnished’,” Dela Rosa told reporters during a surprise visit to the NBP.

The SAF was dragged into the controversy when Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre confirmed the revival of illegal drugs trade and said some of the SAF commandos may be involved.

Out of the original 54 detained at the infamous Building 14, only 14 have remained.

“Initially, the plan is to limit all the convicted drug lords to Building 14 where our SAF are deployed. But some of the drug lords were gradually being transferred to the medium security where the SAF has no control of,” Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa said he was surprised to learn that Peter Co, a top drug lord, is no longer at Building 14 and has been transferred to the medium security compound.

“Why?” Dela Rosa asked his men who could not offer an explanation.

Some of the former Building 14 occupants even landed in the minimum detention compound, SAF commandos bared.

Although he vouched for the integrity of the SAF, Dela Rosa said he had ordered Director Gregorio Pimentel, head of the Directorate for Intelligence, to investigate Aguirre’s allegation. He also directed the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to help.

“I wish that the allegation is not true. But in order to be fair to the accuser and in order to be fair to the accused, we must conduct an in-depth investigation to determine if the allegation is indeed true,” said the PNP chief.

Dela Rosa urged his men not to hold grudges against the person who is accusing the SAF of wrongdoings inside the NBP.
“Be professional. Continue discharging your duties and disprove them,” Dela Rosa said.

He said the allegation could just be part of the demolition job against the PNP, using SAF, to get even with the impact of the government’s anti-drugs war.

“This is possibly one way of getting back at us because as I’ve said, we are trying to dismantle a billion-peso industry,” he said.

Dela Rosa doesn’t want to get involved in a word war with Aguirre.

“No comment na lang ako, I am only a Chief PNP,” said dela Rosa. “I am not on his level. He is the Secretary of the DOJ and I am not a member of the Cabinet where that level of discussion is possible.”

The decision to transfer the high-profile inmates came from the Bureau of Corrections.

Dela Rosa said the BuCor may have good reasons for transferring the convicted drug lords.

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