President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to investigate Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde “fairly and thoroughly” over allegations that he protected policemen who resell seized drugs.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday the investigation would carry out the President’s orders to validate the findings of a Senate panel that uncovered the existence of so-called ninja cops.
READ: Showdown in Senate: PNP chief draws flak
Duterte, in Russia for a five-day state visit, said Año may conduct his own investigation, which will be his basis to “dismiss, discharge, or terminate any or all of them.”
The President has said he will wait for Año’s report before deciding on the fate of Albayalde and other police officers tagged in the controversy, since the PNP is under the DILG.
In a separate interview, Albayalde also said he would also leave it up to the President if he should resign before his mandatory retirement on Nov. 8.
“We will go where the evidence will point us. We will look at the allegations against him. And do a fair and thorough investigation as much as we can because I think this is what the President wants and what the public demands,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a television interview.
Albayalde was chief of the Pampanga regional police in 2007 when several of its members were accused of reselling drugs by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, then head of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
With only 33 days before his retirement, Albayalde should file criminal charges and move for the dismissal of the 13 ninja cops to erase doubts he was protecting them, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Friday.
READ: PNP chief turns tables on accuser
Lacson said Albayalde should order an immediate review and re-investigation of the circumstances surrounding the questionable buy-bust drug operations before he retires in November.
He said appropriate charges should also be filed against the Pampanga ninja cops.
“The biggest proof to show that he was not protecting the group of [Supt. Rodney Raymundo] Baloyo is to resolve it before he retires,” Lacson said.
Baloyo led the anti-drug police team from the Pampanga Provincial Police Office that raided the residence of Johnson Lee at Woodridge, Lakeshore View, Mexico town in Pampanga, in 2013.
Senator grilled Baloyo and pressed him to tell the truth about the raid and how much in drugs was really seized but he stuck to his story.
The senators found him in contempt and ordered his detention for repeatedly lying in his Senate testimony.
After exposing the threats on his life and his family, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency admitted that Albayalde phoned him in 2016 and ordered him not to carry out the dismissal order on the 13 ninja cops.
Baloyo’s team declared they confiscated only 36 kilograms of shabu but investigators said they had held back some 164 kilograms for themselves to resell. They also took P10 million cash during the raid, but turned over only P100,000.
Baloyo’s team then presented another suspect, not Lee, who was arrested in the raid.
Lee was reportedly allowed to escape in exchange for P50 million.
It was former police official Benjamin Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, who divulged the phone conversation between Albayalde and Aquino.
Admitting the phone call, Aquino at first said Albayalde merely wanted an update on the status of the case of the Pampanga policemen who were his men.
Lacson said some 100,000 policemen suffered for the sins of a few rogue cops.
“They’re 100,000 and then the public would see 13 or 20 rogues, so they were also being dragged [into the controversy]. [So[ they also suffer due to the public perception because of the stupidity of a few,” Lacson said.
Lacson, who was also a former PNP chief, said even those who adhere to the regulations, who have been doing their job well, and who have been sacrificing their lives, are also being dragged down by the scandal.
Although Lacson said he doubted Albayalde’s credibility, he said the police chief was innocent until proven guilty.
Albayalde on Friday said efforts to link him to the ninja cops was being carried out by whoever wants to replace him when he retires.
“Probably, it has something to do with the person who wants to be the next PNP chief,” Albayalde told CNN-Philippines.
“They will destroy my reputation, my integrity so that if I endorse somebody to the President, that’s the kiss of death,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. “This is politics probably in our organization.”
READ: Senate to unmask ‘ninja’ cops
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