A retired police general on Wednesday said Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde told him in a phone call that “only a little went to him,” apparently in reference to 13 of his men who were being investigated for keeping 160 kilos of shabu from a drug raid in 2013.
In testimony before the Senate, former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director for operations Rudy Lacadin recalled that Albayalde called him up during the investigation, but could not remember the details of that conversation.
“l cannot exactly remember the conversation, but what I recall is he said, ‘Sir, it seems like you’re investigating us,’” Lacadin said in Filipino.
He also recalled telling Albayalde that if he had nothing to hide, then he had nothing to worry about.
At this point, he said, he could not tell if Albayalde was joking.
“I said, I don’t know if jokingly, he said, ‘Actually, sir, konti lang naman ang napunta sa kin dyan (Only a little goes to me),” Lacadin said.
At this juncture, Senator Panfilo Lacson asked Lacadin if Albayalde was referring to the 2013 drug operations in Mexico, Pampanga where Pampanga police anti-drug operatives declared only 36 kilograms out of the estimated 200 kilograms of shabu seized from the raid.
Lacadin said he believed Albayalde was indeed alluding to the confiscated drugs as they were talking about the drug raid just before his remark.
But Albayalde asked Lacadin why it took him six years to come out with this information.
The PNP chief said he was being crucified, and that everybody was ganging up on him. He said he did not know why Lacadin would make such an accusation.
Before his revelation, Lacadin said Albayalde was his friend and former business partner in the water business.
“For the information of eveyrbody, General Albayalde is a friend of mine. One time, we were partners in business,” Lacadin said.
At start of the 9th Senate hearing, Albayalde insisted that if he was involved in the controversial buy- bust operation, he should have been charged either criminally and administratively.
“Way back 2013, the case was investigated, I was investigated, I was relieved administratively. I was floating for eight months, after investigation [but it was ] very clear I was never charged, both criminally and administratively,” he said.
Then Region 3 police chief Raul Petrasanta confirmed Albayalde’s claim, saying that only the group of P/Maj. Rodney Baloyo was charged.
Baloyo was the head of the raiding team that conducted the drug bust at the house of suspected drug lord Johnson Lee.
In 2014, the involved 13 Pampanga policemen in the 2013 Pampanga drug bust, were found guilty of grave misconduct for failing to account for all the confiscated evidence.
The involved police officers were initially ordered dismissed, but this was changed to a one-rank demotion.
Two resource persons—Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong and then-Police brigadier general Graciano Mijares of Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, who was Central Luzon police director at the time, did not sign the dismissal order on the 13 policemen accused of recycling illegal drugs.
READ: 2 ‘generals’ out of 9 tagged in illegal drug trade still at it
They said Aquino did not act on the dismissal order after receiving a call from Albayalde, who was
Metro Manila police chief at the time.
Magalong and Mijares said Aquino sat on the recommendation to junk their motion for reconsideration filed by the 13 policemen and affirming the November 2014 dismissal order.
Magalong, then head of the police force’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, said he gave specific instructions to Mijares that the penalty for the 13 police officials should not be downgraded as it constitutes a serious offense. Mijares confirmed the instruction during the hearing.
Mijares then said the police initially suggested the downgrading of the dismissal order on the 13 policemen to demotion to one rank lower in August 2016.
This recommendation reached Aquino’s desk but he did not approve of and had it returned to the PNP legal department for review.
Mijares said that when the recommendation was sent back to Aquino’s office again three weeks later in September 2016, it was changed back to dismissal.
However, Aquino did not act on the recommendation for dismissal and instead deployed the 13 police officials to Mindanao.
Albayalde admitted to making a call to Aquino but said it was not meant to influence him in any way, but to check on the status of his former subordinates.
Aquino denied that Albayalde’s call influenced his decision and said he could not remember if he made the call when the recommendation to dismiss the 13 policemen reached his desk.
He did admit, however, to not signing the recommendation.
Meanwhile, Magalong accused Albayalde of repeatedly lying about his involvement on the case of 13 policemen.
Magalong cited that Albayalde, during the deliberation on his promotion to become a one-star general, did not disclose that he asked Aquino about the status of the dismissal order against 13 of his former men.
“Sometime in 2016, when we were deliberating on his promotion to one star general, I objected. I requested for him to appear before the board to ask him about this particular incident, but all he did was deny knowledge. In the same manner, when General Aquino confronted him here, Aquino was very relaxed and said this is what he told me: not to implement the dismissal. Again he lied,” Magalong said.
Interviewed after the hearing, Gordon described as grave Lacadin’s statements against Albayalde. He also cited the conflicting statements of the PNP chief.
Gordon said he gave Albayalde the whole time to defend himself amid the many statements against him.
“So many contradicted him, all the generals. It is not a very, very secure place thar he has right now,” Gordon said.
The senator said Albayalde’s credibility has been tainted and it will be difficult for him to continue leading the PNP.
“I was hoping he will say he committed a mistake, but he did not accept it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday lashed back at Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo for saying the Senate panel’s investigation into “ninja cops” has been tainted with political color.
READ: Sotto sees explosive exposé on ‘ninja cops’
Panelo said the hearings are making it appear the administration is failing in its war on drugs.
“I think it’s being politicized,” Panelo told reporters.
But Sotto hit those who are not familiar with the Senate rules and sent them his message—“to just zip it.”
In the Senate justice and blue ribbon committees joint hearing Wednesday, Sotto called out “executive officials” who were wondering why the hearing “has moved to another issue.”
“There had been statements made by some and even executive officials that they’re wondering why this hearing has moved to another issue, the direct answer would be apparently you have not been monitoring the hearings,” he said.
“Because indeed the committee on justice and the Blue Ribbon committee started convening an inquiry into the GCTA [Good Conduct Time Allowance Law], which evolved into the influence in recycling and illegal activities in the BuCor [Bureau of Corrections] or the New Bilibid Prison,” he added.
The Senate leader noted that it could not be avoided that issues pertaining to illegal activities inside the BuCor would come up during the hearings.
“We just want to clear the air on the issue that this has been being turned to a political scenario,” he added.
But Sotto, who did not mention any executive official by name, said the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has the authority to conduct any hearing concerning any public official and “anything at all under the sun.”
He also said the events being investigated transpired in 2013 which did not even involve the current administration.
READ: Duterte: Investigate AlbayaldeREAD: Rody confused: No generals, only colonel among ‘ninja cops’READ: Narco-cops worse than felons—DuterteREAD: Narco-cops in two groups bared: ‘ninja liit, volt in’
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