POLICE Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, the deputy chief for administration of the Philippine National Police, yesterday took over as officer-in-charge of the PNP after Gen. Oscar Albayalde stepped down amid growing pressures sparked by allegations of his supposed links with “ninja cops” involved in the “agaw-bato” scheme, or the “recycling” of confiscated drugs.
Albayalde, who is set to retire on November 8 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56, formally relinquished his post as the 22nd PNP chief and went on non-duty status effective yesterday, October 14.
Albayalde took over the reins of the PNP in April 2018 after now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa retired.
Gamboa, who belongs to the same PMA Class of 1986 as Albayalde, is the number two man of the PNP. He assumed his current post only Friday last week after Lt. Gen. Fernando Mendez retired over the weekend.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said Gamboa was named OIC because he was the most senior police officer in the organization.
“That is an automatic system in the PNP, that every time the PNP chief is out, the second in command serves as the OIC like when the PNP chief is travelling abroad or in this case, when the PNP chief goes on a non-duty status,” Banac said.
Banac said the PNP can still tender retirement honors for Albayalde when he retires on November 8 but only if the former PNP chief decides to still have one.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año officiated the turnover of command from Albayalde to Gamboa in Camp Crame.
Año said Gamboa is also included in the shortlist submitted to President Duterte to replace Albayalde. The others in the list are Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, the deputy chief PNP for operations (number three man); and former NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, now the chief of directorial staff.
Gamboa and Cascolan belong to PMA Class of 1986, while Eleazar is from PMA Class 1987.
Gamboa will retire on September 2, 2020; Cascolan on November 10, 2020; and Eleazar on November 13, 2021.
Gamboa, in a press briefing after the command turn-over, said he met with President Duterte before Albayalde’s decision was made public. He claimed the President told him to continue working on the daily activities of the PNP, but refused to divulge additional details about the meeting.
Año said he will submit to the President within the week the names of police officials he will recommend as Albayalde’s replacement, hinting that he may add a name or two on top of the three choices.
Gamboa said any retiring police officer can avail of the non-duty status, which is normally two to three months before retirement, so he or she can prepare their retirement documents.
Año said the National Police Commission (Napolcom) will come out with a resolution defining the functions of Gamboa as OIC of the country’s police organization.
The last time the PNP was run by an OIC was after the retirement of Deputy Director General (Lt. Gen.) Leonardo Espina which ran from December 2014 up to his retirement in July 2015. Espina was preceded by Director General Ricardo Marquez, who was appointed PNP chief by then President Aquino.
The beleaguered Albayalde volunteered to step down from his post after senators and critics demanded for his head in the midst of allegations that he went out of his way to block the dismissal of 13 rogue police officers found to have carried out in November 2013 an illegal buy-bust operation on a suspected Chinese drug lord and later submitted a fake case report.
In his last address before the weekly flag-raising in Camp Crame, Albayalde said he had the chance to talk to Año over the weekend to discuss his plan of going on a non-duty status.
“After careful thought and deliberation, I have come to the decision to relinquish my post as Chief, PNP effective today (October 14) and go on a non-duty status. I have submitted my letter to Interior Secretary Año which he accepted and favorably endorsed to the President,” Albayalde said.
“Since I am retiring compulsory on November 8, 2019, this will pave the way for the appointment of my replacement should the President desire so,” he added.
Albayalde reiterated his innocence and insisted his position is supported by the fact that no formal charges, either criminal or administrative, were filed against him in relation to the November 2013 anti-narcotics operation.
“Because of alleged irregularities, criminal proceedings were instituted by the CIDG before the Department of Justice on May 12, 2014 against those involved. I was not among those named as respondent,” he insisted.
He said the cases against the ninja cops were also dismissed on June 8, 2017 by City Prosecutor Jorge Catalan, acting Prosecutor General, for lack of probable cause.
He said he was administratively relieved as Pampanga PPO director and placed on floating status for eight months due to the investigation on the ninja cops until he was appointed chief of the National Capital Region Police Office on April 2016.
Besides, he added, “no protest was made on my appointment (as PNP chief). Implicitly, it may be assumed that the President himself was aware of my appointment to that position.”
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said on Monday that President Duterte urged Albayalde to take a terminal leave.
Go said Duterte told Año last Saturday that Albayalde should take a terminal leave while the investigation on the ninja cops controversy is ongoing. Año and Albayalde reportedly met during the weekend where the former PNP chief informed the DILG secretary of his desire to step down ahead of his retirement.
Go said Duterte’s position did not mean that he had lost trust in Albayalde but that the Chief Executive was merely concerned how the controversies bugging Albayalde was not only affecting his performance as chief PNP but the performance of the police institution as well.
Año said the ninja cops scandal that hounded Albayalde took a toll on the beleaguered police official and his family.
In an interview over dzMM, Año said Albayalde did what he thought was best for the PNP.
“He was having a hard time as PNP chief due to the allegations and the continued Senate hearings. He cannot concentrate on his work so he did what was best for the organization.
And he wanted to spare the President and the organization from all controversies. So, as a gentleman he opted to relinquish his post,” Año said.
Albayalde thanked the President for letting him be the 22nd PNP chief as he reminded the 195,000-strong PNP “to carry on in the service of our fellow Filipinos so that all of us may live and work in peace.”
“Do not let these challenges demoralize or stray you from your oath,” he added.
Albayalde did not face members of the media after his flag-raising ceremony speech.