By Jennifer P. Rendon
An anti-drug police operative who was recently found positive for illegal drugs use did not challenge the result of the test.
Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson, said Staff Sergeant Ildefonso dela Cruz has not made any move to dispute the result.
As a result, the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division will now conduct a pre-charge investigation against dela Cruz and will ask for an initial evaluation report from the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO).
The pre-charge probe is expected to be over in 20 days, after which, dela Cruz would be formally charged for conduct unbecoming of a police officer and would undergo summary hearing procedures.
“That’s a grave administrative offense. In the past, those administratively charged over drug use were meted with dismissal from service,” Malong said.
De la Cruz had already been relieved from his assignment at the Station Drug Enforcement Team of Dumangas Police Station after the drug test result showed presence of methamphetamine in his urine sample.
He is now under restrictive custody of the PNP Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit at Camp Delgado, Iloilo City effective March 3, 2021.
Methamphetamine is a substance found in shabu or crystal meth.
Malong said dela Cruz had not been reporting for duty.
A case for AWOL (absence without official leave) will be filed against him.
A member of the Candoni Police Station in Negros Occidental who also tested positive for illegal drug use also went AWOL after he was made to report to RPHAU.
But whether dela Cruz went on AWOL or not, the IPPO is set to submit an investigation report to administratively prosecute him.
Colonel Gilbert Gorero, Iloilo police chief, cited the importance of going ahead with the administrative case relative to dela Cruz’s illegal drug use.
“In the past, policemen who were found positive for illegal drug use went on AWOL before the case could even proceed for summary hearing dismissal. As it is, if they were already declared AWOL and dropped from police rolls, you could not prosecute someone who’s no longer with the police service,” he said.
Years later, they would challenge their dismissal based on technicality.
“They would use the AWOL (status) as the basis for their dismissal and there’s a possibility that they could get back into service. That’s why, even if he went on AWOL, we should be able to go on with the summary hearing dismissal before his name would be dropped from rolls,” Gorero said.
De la Cruz’s positive drug test result and his subsequent disarming and restriction were announced by the PNP national headquarters.
In the their official Facebook page, PNP chief General Debold Sinas announced that de la Cruz will undergo pre-charge investigation and summary dismissal proceedings after screening.
IPPO records showed that the 38-year-old de la Cruz was previously assigned to Mandurriao Police Station in Iloilo City until April 2020 and later moved to IPPO. He’s been in the service for around 12 years already.
After his Iloilo City stint, he was then assigned to Maasin Police Station until Dec. 20, 2020 wherein he was transferred to be part of the anti-drug unit of Dumangas PNP.
“He was subjected to a random drug test last December 27. The result was negative,” Gorero said.
On Feb. 18, 2021, Gorero said they again subjected all 344 members of the IPPO Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) and SDE teams to another round of drug test.
De la Cruz’s urine specimen labeled with alphanumeric code RDT-IP-864-2021 was initially screened by the Regional Crime Laboratory Office (RCLO-6) in Iloilo City.
This time around, de la Cruz was found positive for the presence of methamphetamine – a dangerous drug.
The same specimen was subjected to Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer instrument test at the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, which confirmed the presence of methamphetamine.
All other 343 policemen passed the drug test.
As this developed, Gorero said that the IPPO Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Unit already directed de la Cruz to challenge the result within 15 days upon receipt of the complaint.