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Philippines' top cops go on leave under investigation.

MANILA, May 16 Kyodo

Philippine President Joseph Estrada on Sunday let his two top police generals go on indefinite leave pending the outcome of investigations into their alleged involvement in separate cases of drugs and illegal wiretapping. Estrada said he accepted the request of both Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Roberto Lastimoso and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force chief Panfilo Lacson to go on leave to pave the way for objective and thorough evaluations of all allegations against them. Lastimoso and Lacson have been at odds after junior police officials identified with Lacson last month accused the PNP chief of coddling drug lords. The case stemmed from the arrest last March of a suspected drug dealer, Rafael Madraso, in suburban Paranaque. The arresting officers claimed that Lastimoso and PNP Intelligence Group Commander Robert Delfin intervened on the grounds that the suspect was a "deep penetration agent" in a plan to neutralize drug syndicates. During a subsequent investigation by the House Committee on Public Order and Security, Lacson accused Lastimoso of seeking the release of arrested drug dealers in at least three incidents. The House probe later began probing reports that Lacson's group was involved in illegal wiretapping. Last week, the Manila Times reported that Lacson's group was involved in illegal wiretapping of police officials, politicians, businessmen, bishops, top government officials and journalists. The ombudsman is now investigating Lastimoso and is set to investigate Lacson. The feud between the two generals has divided the country's police organization and hurt police morale.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:May 24, 1999
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