Senate sends 'ninja cop' to Bilibid for 'lying' in probe

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Major Rodney Baloyo will be detained at the Pasay City Jail, Senator Richard Gordon says.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — A Senate committee on Thursday cited a so-called “ninja" or drug-linked cop in contempt for allegedly lying in a legislative hearing.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, ordered PMAJ Rodney Baloyo detained at the New Bilibid Prison after Thursday's hearing.

He earlier said Baloyo will be held at the Pasay City Jail, but later changed his mind to give the cop "severe punishment."

Corrections officials told CNN Philippines that Baloyo will be held under round-the-clock surveillance in a solitary room inside the NBP’s Reception and Diagnostic Center building, a holding facility for new inmates before they are sent to the different prison security compounds.

Corrections spokesperson Alberto Tapiru said Baloyo did not go through procedures for convicts, such as having a mugshot taken and signing a log book, as he is only a detainee of the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee.

Siya naman po ay na-charge lang ng contempt,” Tapiru said. He added, “Iko-confine lang po namin siya dito hanggang matapos po yung araw na ibinigay sa kanya.”

[Translation: “He was only charged with contempt. We will hold him here until his stay is over.”]

A second corrections spokesperson, Wena Fe Dalagan, described Baloyo’s cell.

Ang size po niya ay 2.5x3, and meron po siyang CR sa loob, may bed,” Dalagan says. She adds, “Sa pagkain naman po, kung ano po yung ating allotted para sa mga persons deprived of liberty, yun din po ang ating ibibigay po na meal.”

[Translation: “The cell size would only be 2.5 by 3 meters. It has its own toilet and a bed. He will be given food similar to those given to other inmates.”]

Tapiru and Dalagan said the NBP Hospital is available should Baloyo seek medical attention.

Dalagan said BuCor officials will meet to discuss rules regarding visits, as well as other operational matters about Baloyo's detention.

Baloyo was leader of the irregular Pampanga raid in November 2013 where he and 12 other cops supposedly kept and recycled 160 kilograms of shabu and got ₱50 million in exchange for the freedom of Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.

READ: Gordon: Cops ‘mishandled’ 2013 Pampanga drug raid

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson moved to cite Baloyo in contempt, saying the cop kept on making false statements as lawmakers tried to get to the bottom of the controversial drug sting. Lacson said it was impossible for Baloyo and his team to brief the asset at 3 p.m., and then conduct casing and withdraw the ₱100,000 buy bust money in time for the raid that they claim happened at 4:30 p.m.

An investigation by the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said the raid actually happened in the morning, but Baloyo denied this. Lawmakers have said the cops probably used the time between the morning and 4:30 p.m. to keep the shabu and cash they seized, and arrest another Chinese national to serve as replacement for Lee, who was allowed to escape for a price.

Ang totoo, sabihin niyo na, hindi naman kayo magre-raid. Hulidap e (The truth is, admit it, you did not conduct a raid. You arrested to extort money),” Gordon said.

Baloyo maintained, “Buy bust po iyon, Sir (That was a buy-bust, Sir).”

Drilon said Baloyo has consistently given the senators "very evasive answers."

Gordon asked the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation to hunt down Lee and the other Chinese national Ding Wen Kun, who took Lee's place in jail but has apparently been freed. Gordon said they could answer questions surrounding the anomalous raid.

PNP chief PGEN Oscar Alabayalde, who was then Pampanga provincial police director, said he thought the raid was a “simple operation,” that’s why he did not get himself involved. He said he was placed under floating status at the time for command responsibility.

Meanwhile, Baloyo and the cops earlier managed to have their punishment downgraded from dismissal to one-rank demotion. They are now under floating status, while Albayalde's fate hangs in the balance.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he will wait for the Senate to wrap up its probe before taking action on Albayalde and his subordinate cops. The President said that as of now, Albayalde’s “only link” to the erring cops was that he happened to be Pampanga’s provincial director when the questionable drug raid happened.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Paolo Barcelon contributed to this report.