From Jarius Bondoc’s column in The Philippine Star: “Dumb and cruel,” (Sen. Lacson) calls the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s disclosure of 207 barangay men allegedly using or pushing narcotics.
Intelligence isn’t investigation
GOTCHA – Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star)
May 9, 2018 – 12:00am
If the old police generals were around today they’d be scolding the present ones. In fact former National Police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson derides the latter’s fondness for publicizing intelligence findings. “Dumb and cruel,” he calls the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s disclosure of 207 barangay men allegedly using or pushing narcotics. The PDEA exposé is to guide voters in next week’s village elections. Lacson scoffs that if the 207 truly are into drugs, then they’ve just been alerted about being watched, so will wipe off the evidence.
Four intelligence units supposedly had validated the narco-roster. Those are: the PDEA’s in-house team, the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group, the Intelligence Service-Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. For Lacson, however, the only true validation is the filing of cases that will stand in court. “The purpose of an intelligence report is to discreetly build up a case against the subject, not forewarn or publicly humiliate him,” he explains.
With the unsubstantiated linking to heinous crime, it’s the 207 who may now sue the intelligence generals for libel, Lacson rues. Invoking orders from the President-Commander-in-Chief will not exonerate them. Lacson is logical: If the intelligence reports are solid, then there should be court charges; but there are no charges because no investigations. While PNP director general in 1999-2001, he concurrently led the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force. The latter consisted of crack intelligence and operations officers from the PNP, AFP, and National Bureau of Investigation. The experience suits him best as chairman of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs.
The quadruply validated narco-roster does contain several oddities. Two of the chairmen mentioned have been awarded multiple times for sterling anti-drug projects. Two of the barangays recently were declared “drug-free.” One of the chairmen had been killed in 2016. Some of the 207 had long retired from barangay politics. And there’s supposed to be a second roster of 274 more barangay men, to be released this week.
If there are barangay chairmen to be charged first, it’s the 30,000 or so out of 42,045, nearly three in four, who have never activated their respective Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils. By law, the BADACs are to identify and report to the Dept. of Interior and Local Government the addicts and pushers in their locales, for proper action. Those barangay intelligence gatherings too are supposed to stay confidential. If truly alert, the chairmen can discover shabu (meth) laboratories.
Early in President Rodrigo Duterte’s term the police generals fed him, for media release, raw intelligence on five supposed narco-generals. Except for one who had come upon stupendous wealth, which in itself is no proof of narco-trafficking, there were scant details on the rest. Reputations and careers were ruined.
Then came the purportedly thrice-validated list of narco-politicos, -cops and -judges, read by Duterte in a public forum. Two identified governors pleaded for reevaluation – and promptly were delisted. One of the eight judges exposed had been dead eight years, five had long retired, one had been dismissed, and two never handled drug-related cases. The police officers never were charged by the Internal Affairs Service, but simply reassigned to Mindanao for disciplining. Speculation then was that many names were included simply out of malice, personal grudge, or sloppy surveillance.
Lacson isn’t the only ex-police general who frowns on declassifying intelligence for mere publicity. I’ve had the privilege of covering many from 1982 to 2014. Four of them I remember to constantly pound on the difference between intelligence and investigation: Generals Fidel Ramos, Ramon Montaño, Lucas Managuelod, and Noel delos Reyes. The two police functions have distinct objectives. Intelligence supports operations, as in the commando raid on the verified location of Malaysian terrorist Marwan, inside a Moro separatist stronghold in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Intelligence can also kick off a case buildup, as in the plundering in 2004 by AFP comptroller-general Carlos Garcia. On the other hand, investigation aims for criminal prosecution and conviction. In their time, Ramos, now 90, Montaño, 81, Managuelod, 70, and delos Reyes, 60, did not substitute solid investigation with raw intelligence. Shortcuts never brought criminals to justice.
They knew police work well. Although originally trained as soldiers, they imbibed the police tenet of crime prevention and solution. President Ramos had graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Before serving the longest as chief of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police, he was AFP deputy for intelligence (J2).
Montaño, Philippine Military Academy Class 1958, astutely used intelligence for operations. With eyes and ears in communities and skillful analyses, he captured notorious bank robbers and kidnappers for ransom. He also tracked down military putschists, like then-colonel, now senator Gregorio Honasan. The last PC-INP chief, he prepared the transition of the paramilitary force into the purely civilian Philippine National Police. (He was a mentor of Lacson, PMA Class 1971.)
Managuelod, though not a PMA grad, is a criminologist and lawyer. While head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group he authored the PNP Manual on Criminal Investigation in use today. His investigation of then-senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor Santiago led to their arrest for rebellion in connection with an assault on Malacañang in 2001. Also that year he investigated and arrested in Kuala Lumpur former Muslim Mindanao Region governor Nur Misuari for the uprising in Zamboanga City. Before retirement he was PNP Deputy for Investigation and Detective Management.
In the PNP Intelligence Group, delos Reyes, PMA 1982, quietly piled up info on crime syndicates for field units to bust. His spying led to the discovery and prosecution of crooked higher-ups, kidnapping gangs, and Islamist terrorists. He computerized the IG and the PNP section on transnational crimes. Before he became Regional Director for Muslim Mindanao, he was PNP Deputy Director for Intelligence. As police consultant of the government negotiating panel, he helped forge peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.