A PANEL of prosecutors from the justice department has found probable cause to indict former PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde for graft after finding him liable for using his influence to block the dismissal of 13 Pampanga “ninja cops” involved in a sham anti-narcotics raid in 2013.
Prosecutors likewise recommended the indictment of 12 of the ninja cops led by then Major Rodney Baloyo for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165) and the Revised Penal Code.
The team dismissed the charges against one of the ninja cops for insufficiency of evidence.
The 140-page resolution of the DOJ prosecutors found probable cause to indict Albayalde with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for “persuading, inducing or influencing” another public officer to “perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations in connection with the official duties of the latter, and for causing any undue injury to any party.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the panel of prosecutors anchored its findings on Albayalde’s “non-implementation of an order which sought to penalize the police officers involved in the questioned drug operations.”
Guevarra said the findings will be endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman which has primary jurisdiction over crimes falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.
Under Republic Act 10660, the anti-graft court has exclusive jurisdiction in cases involving PNP officers occupying the position of provincial director and holding the rank of senior superintendent (colonel) and higher.
Asked why Albayalde was only charged for violation of the anti-graft law, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said the panel “found that the acts attributed to Albayalde happened after the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs operation.”
Perete said the panel junked the complaints for violation of sections 27 of RA 9165 and Article 171 for falsification and negligence and tolerance under the Revised Penal Code against the former PNP chief.
Albayalde has repeatedly denied the allegations against him and at one point during the preliminary investigation, even asked the DOJ to junk the case for lack of merit.
The Senate committee on justice last year, after holding prolonged hearings on the ninja cops issue, said Albayalde should be held liable for the operation conducted by his men against suspected high profile drug suspect Johnson Lee.
The Senate panel recommended the filing of criminal cases against Albayalde and his men led by Baloyo for their failure to account for some 160 kilograms of illegal drugs seized from Lee.
Reacting to the DOJ resolution, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said: “I personally think that it is as far as the evidence against former PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde can go, as shown even during the Senate inquiry.
“The lesson learned here is that the law does not only have a long arm. It also has a very long memory. Having said that, the surest way for police officers like P/Maj. Baloyo et.al to avoid past misdeeds from catching up with them is not to commit those misdemeanors in the first place,” Lacson also said.
The DOJ panel recommended the indictment of Baloyo, PInsp. Joven Bagnot de Guzman Jr., SPO1 Jules Lacap Maniago, SPO1 Donald Castro Roque, SPO1 Ronald Bayas Santos, SP01 Rommel Munoz Vital, SPO1 Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio, P03 Dindo Singian Dizon, PO3 Gilbert Angeles De Vera, PO3 Romeo Encarnacion Guerrero Jr., SPO1 Eligio Dayos Valeroso and SPO1 Dante Mercado Dizon.
They were charged for misappropriation and failure to account for confiscated drugs in violation of section 27 of RA 9165, planting of evidence, delay and bungling of the prosecution of drug cases, qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code and for causing undue injury to any party, including the government.
“The panel found that Baloyo et al misappropriated drugs when they declared that only 36.60 kilos of shabu was seized during their operations, while the subsequent police investigation indicated that about 200 kilos of shabu was actually recovered,” the resolution stated.
“The group likewise declared the cash they obtained from the operation to be only P300, 000 while contrary evidence indicated that said amount reached P10 million. The panel based the actual volume of the drugs and the amount of money seized during the operation on, among others, the declaration contained in the affidavit of direct participant De Guzman and nine other respondents,” it added.
The DOJ said they also found evidence that Baloyo’s group failed to declare and account for the Toyota Fortuner that was also seized during the operation.
“Furthermore, the panel noted that Baloyo’s group illegally arrested one Ding Wenkun instead of Johnson Lee from whom they seized the illegal drugs and imputed on Wenkun the crime of illegal sale and possession of illegal drugs despite their knowledge that it was Lee who should be charged therefore,” it also said.
The prosecutors also cited Baloyo’s “untruthful statements” in his spot report and progress report on the operation.
Santos and Guerrero were also charged for making the same statements in their affidavit of arrest against Wenkun.
The complaints against PO2 Anthony Loleng Lacsamana were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.
“The panel concluded based on the evidence presented that respondent Lacsamana did not participate in the operation,” the prosecutors said.
The team relied on additional evidence presented by the parties and their witnesses, as well as the committee report based on the Senate inquiry.
Baloyo’s group were initially charged for misappropriation and planting of evidence and custody and disposition of evidence. These, however, were dismissed in 2017/
The cases were reopened following the revival of the ninja cops issue in the Senate investigations. Guevarra then assembled a new prosecution panel headed by Suarez with Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina Dugay and Gino Paolo Santiago as members.