(Photo courtesy of PNP Public Information Office)

MANILA – Members of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) anti-narcotics unit have arrested a police officer in a buy-bust operation in Manila on Monday night.

NCRPO chief, Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, identified the suspect as Staff Sgt. Ed Dyson Banaag, assigned to the Philippine National Police- Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) main office at Camp Crame in Quezon City, who was arrested in an operation conducted by the Regional Intelligence Division-Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RID-RDEU) at the corner of Rizal Avenue and Lope de Vega St. in Santa Cruz, Manila at around 8:45 p.m.

Banaag tried to escape on board a motorcycle but was cornered after he lost control and fell to the ground.

Seized from him were around 25 grams of suspected shabu with a street value of PHP170,000; the boodle money used in the transaction, his service firearm, and a PNP identification card.

Estomo said two men in civilian clothes who were later identified as Staff Sergeants Raymund Portes and Jerry Saratobias Jr., both assigned to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), were also arrested for obstruction of justice.

The two police officers who were Banaag's former colleagues allegedly tried to intervene in the inventory and investigation of the arresting officers.

Estomo said complaints for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and obstruction of justice are being prepared against the suspects at the Manila City Prosecutor's Office.

PNP- Public Information Office (PIO) chief, Col. Redrico Maranan, said Banaag was assigned to PDEG on Jan. 4, 2023, from the CIDG and had yet to report in its office.

He said Banaag's assignment to PDEG is currently undergoing investigation.

Yan ang gusto nating tignan (pagsasala ng mga pulis na ma-aassign sa PDEG) kasi pag ang pulis ay napupunta sa special unit meron yang vetting. May complete background investigation pa nga para masigurado na malinis ang pagkatao mo na ikaw ay karapat dapat diyan sa special unit (That's what we want to see (screening of police officers assigned to PDEG) because when the police go to the special unit, there is a vetting process. There is even a complete background investigation to make sure that the person is clean and that you are eligible for the special unit),” Maranan told reporters.

Banaag is not the first PDEG operative arrested for illegal drugs. The PDEG is the PNP's main unit in charge of anti-illegal drug operations.

Last year, Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo Jr., a member of the PNP DEG Special Operations Unit in the National Capital Region, yielded PHP13.6 million worth of shabu inside his lending company office in Quiapo, Manila.

Mayo’s arrest prompted an investigation which, according to Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., revealed that some high-ranking police officials were involved in the illegal drugs trade.

This prompted Abalos, with the approval of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., to call for the courtesy resignation of all police colonels and generals to weed out scalawags from the police force. (PNA)