President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’s vow to continue his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s hardline anti-drugs campaign,which has been marred by widespread allegations of extrajudicial killings and other abuse by the police, seems much more complicated now after after a police officer from an anti-drug unit was arrested in connection to the seizure of nearly one ton of methamphetamine, known locally as “shabu,” in the what appears to be the country’s biggest drug bust to date.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said they seized the 990 kilograms of meth, worth a whopping PHP6.7 billion (US$113 million) in Tondo, Manila, on Saturday. In addition to the narcotics, they also found the personal belongings, ID and “incriminating documents” of an intelligence officer with the PNP’s Drug Enforcement Group linking him to the crime.
The PNP identified the police officer in question as Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo Jr in a press conference. Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government Benhur Abalos Jr called it the “largest drug haul” in Philippine history.
Police said the haul happened through a buy-bust operation on Oct. 8 in which authorities raided a building that housed a lending company where they found the massive stacks of the drugs.
Authorities arrested 50-year-old Ney Saligumba Atadero and later found documents that showed the sergeant was his accomplice.
Police then hunted down Mayo Jr, and arrested him.
PNP chief PGen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr said the police force was worried there were more officers like Mayo involved in the drug trade and the master sergeant could just be a small player.
Azurin also assured the public that the master sergeant’s case would be tried fairly and that his arrest served as proof that the PNP does not tolerate any wrongdoing, especially among its ranks.
While it may be the biggest drug bust to date, Mayo Jr. is far from the highest ranking police officer to face allegations of corruption in connection to the drug trade. In 2019, the former chief of the PNP, General Oscar Albayalde, resigned from his post amid accusations that he had protected officers who were accused of selling hundreds of kilos of confiscated meth. The Department of Justice charged him with graft over the accusations but later decided to drop the case.