Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — The Philippine National Police said extortion by three police officers delayed the procurement of body-worn cameras meant to be used during anti-drug operations.
PNP Officer-in-Charge Police Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa revealed on Monday that three police majors in a technical working group asked for bribe worth ₱5 million from one of those who bidded to supply 300 body cameras worth ₱334 million.
He said he discovered the anomaly when he was still the chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).
“The funds were released 2018. Nagkaroon ng bidding, may eight proponents but in the middle of the post qualification, I found out that three of my men in the technical working group were asking money from the proponents,” he said in a media briefing.
[Translation: The funds were released in 2018. There were eight proponents during the bidding. But in the middle of the post qualification, I found out that three of my men in the technical working group were asking money from the proponents.]
Gamboa said the involved police officers — PMaj Emerson Sales, PMaj Rholly Caraggayan, and PMaj Angel Beros — have been relieved and are undergoing administrative trial. He said checks have been issued to the erring cops.
The PNP’s use of body cameras have been the constant call of many, including new anti-drug czar Vice President Leni Robredo, as a tool for transparency in anti-drug operations. The 300 body cameras were meant to be used by the police starting 2018.
“So noong nagkaroon ng controversy, na-hold ang post qualification because I have to deal with it. Nagpatuloy ang post qualification with a new technical working group,” Gamboa said.
[Translation: The post qualification was put on hold because I had to deal with the controversy. Now we are going though the post qualification with a new set of technical working group.]
Despite the delay, he said the bids and awards committee has resumed its work, with six suppliers undergoing post qualification to meet all the necessary requirements. The procurement will include accessories, software, computer servers, storage, and connectivity system.
The acting top police official said that they are hoping that the body cameras will be used in the latter part of 2022.
“Sabi ko dapat (ang procurement) before December because the money is going to expire by December 31,” he said.
[Translation: I said it has to be done before December because the budget will expire by December 30.]
Robredo, the new co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, on Saturday reiterated the need for police and other law enforcement officers to wear body cameras during anti-drug operations to protect both law enforcement agents and civilians. She has earlier criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs.”
Local and international human rights groups say thousands more have died in extrajudicial killings as a result of the President’s public pronouncements, a claim Malacañang has repeatedly denied. Government data show around 6,000 have been killed in anti-drug operations since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July 2016.
Cops involved in extortion
Gamboa assured the case involving the three cops was an isolated incident.
“Honestly it’s a set back on the part of the Bids and Awards Committee because I was believing na malinis kami. But of course very isolated naman ‘yung case na ‘yun,” he said.
[Translation: It’s a set back for the BAC because I believed we’re not corrupt. This case is an isolated incident.]
He is confident the police officers will be charged once the verdict on the administrative investigation is released this month. He added that he also issued a new directive for the PNP’s investigative arm to file criminal charges against erring cops if the case against them is strong.
“Ito ang bago ko ring directive (Here’s my new directive): That whenever there is an administrative case and there’s a probability that they have also committed a criminal case, then the directorate for investigation management through CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) is obligated to file the criminal case,” he said.