At least three senators believe there is sufficient evidence to file graft charges against Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde, for his alleged role in protecting “ninja cops” who resold illegal drugs confiscated during a police raid in 2013.
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Blue Ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon, who is leading the Senate inquiry, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon both said the evidence against Albayalde is strong.
Drilon said the testimony given against Albayalde during the Senate hearings could be used by the Department of Justice as additional evidence, and could possibly cause the conviction of the embattled PNP chief.
“People have different statements, they say I am not involved, I was not there when the incident happened. All of these can be negated,” Drilon said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the additional testimonies and documents presented, particularly the surprise revelations by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group deputy chief and retired Brig. Gen. Rudy Lacadin, have reinforced the other circumstantial evidence gathered in previous hearings of the joint Senate committee.
“Slowly but surely, the dots are being connected for the committee members to form a conclusion, at the very least on the cover-up of the erring policemen led by Maj. Rodney Baloyo,” said Lacson.
“It may also have opened the possibility of General Albayalde of being an accessory after the fact,” said Lacson who also served as PNP chief.
Gordon said Lacadin’s testimony if corroborated with other statements, constitute strong evidence that may be used to file a complaint of graft against Albayalde.
“This is a sworn [statement]. He [Lacadin] is a general, officer of good repute. And when you take it together with the other evidence—the approaches to (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron) Aquino and the failure to follow the rules, failure to supervise it correctly, that is at the very least neglect of duty and at the most, graft and corruption,” Gordon said.
At Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Lacadin dropped a bombshell, saying Albayalde had admitted to getting “a small share” of the loot from the 2013 raid.
Gordon described Lacadin’s exposé as “so damaging.”
The senator also said Albayalde’s mistake is that he keeps calling people.
Gordon said he believes there is now clear evidence that Albayalde interfered to save the 13 policemen involved in the 2013 raid from dismissal.
Albayalde was chief of the Pampanga police office when the 13 policemen raided the house of a suspected drug lord, seizing about 200 kilos of shabu but turning in only 38 kilos while keeping the rest to resell.
Told about President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statement that there must be clear evidence first against the PNP chief, Gordon said: “I think we have it.”
“I would advise Oscar Albayalde to get a very, very, very good lawyer,” Gordon said. He also disclosed that the NBI is conducting a lifestyle check on Albayalde, who is set to retire on Nov. 8.
Albayalde, then Pampanga police chief, was relieved in 2014 over the case following the ninja cop controversy.
Former CIDG chief Benjamin Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, had earlier linked Albayalde to the ninja cop issue in one of the hearings.
Magalong said Albayalde attempted to influence Aquino into not carrying out the dismissal of the 13 police officers.
Albayalde has maintained his innocence and has rejected calls for his resignation or early retirement.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac on Thursday denied rumors circulating on social media that the PNP chief had resigned.
Albayalde said he is considering filing a case against Lacadin but did not elaborate.
“Lacadin has a lot of explaining to do and he will have his day in court,” he said.
Albayalde decried what he called as conspiracy of former police officials to pin him down.
“All those police officials ganging up on me have ill motives against me and obviously all worked with the previous administration,” Albayalde said.
The Palace on Thursday remained silent on the revelations made by Lacadin.
Asked if the President had said anything about whether Albayalde should or should not resign, Panelo said in Filipino: “None. I haven’t heard anything.”
He reminded reporters that they would let the Senate and the DILG to complete their investigation before the President acts.
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