RETIRED police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde was included yesterday as a respondent in the amended criminal charge sheet filed by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in relation to the November 2013 sham drug raid conducted by alleged 13 Pampanga “ninja cops” on a suspected Chinese drug lord.
In the amended referral complaint addressed to DOJ Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento, the CIDG accused Albayalde of violating sections 27, 29, 32, and 92 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165).
Section 27 pertains to the failure of police operatives to account for confiscated drugs, section 29 involves planting of evidence, section 32 defines the liabilities of offenders, while section 92 touches on the delay and bungling of the prosecution of drug cases.
Albayalde was also charged with bribery, falsification of public document, perjury, and dereliction of duty.
Albayalde last week stepped down as PNP chief and went on a non-duty status until his retirement on November 8.
Aside from Albayalde, also named respondents in the charge sheet were alleged ninja cops Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo, Lt. Joven de Guzman; Master Sergeants Jules Maniago, Donald Castro Roque, Ronald Santos, Rommel Vital, Alcindor Tinio, Dante Dizon, Eligio Valeroso; Sergeants Dindo Dizon, Gilbert de Vera and Romeo Guerrero Jr.; and Cpl. Anthony Lacsamana.
Albayalde welcomed the filing of charges against him, saying: “At least I will be accorded due process now.”
The CIDG said it filed the amended complaint “to avoid undue influence, collision, and partiality that may be extended against herein police officers as a result of familiarity with the local prosecution office.”
“Furthermore, the case is highly sensitive as respondents are police officers and personnel and thus warrant stricter and more experienced prosecutors to handle the case,” it also said.
The CIDG had previously filed a criminal complaint against the 13 rogue policemen, which had been dismissed by a DOJ panel. The case was sent to the Office of the Justice Secretary for automatic review.
In light of the Senate probe on the issue of ninja cops, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the reopening of the investigation and gave new panel head Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez 30 days to complete its probe.
The new DOJ panel started its re-investigation on the ninja cops last October 15 based on allegations that the cops declared only 36 kilos out of the 200 kilos of shabu seized from suspected drug lord Johnson Lee in an operation in Mexico, Pampanga in November 2013.
The cops reportedly freed Lee after he paid P50 million and presented another Chinese as a suspect.
The amended CIDG complaint will be incorporated in the complaint now already being reinvestigated by the justice department.
The new complaint sheet was filed days after a joint Senate panel said charges should be filed against Albayalde for his alleged complicity with the November 2013 illegal activities of the 13 ninja cops when he was still the director of the province’s police office.
The Senate committees on blue ribbon and justice last Friday released the first part of its report on the investigation it conducted on the anomalies at the New Bilibid Prison, which subsequently led to the discovery of the activities of the ninja cops based on the revelations of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a former CIDG chief.
Gordon said: “By reasons of seniority, by reason of his moral superiority, his competence, hindi naman siya aabot ng general kung wala siyang alam (Albayalde would not have reached the rank of general if he does not know anything). I think he is very liable.”
Magalong, during the Senate hearing, said that the 13 ninja cops actually seized 200 kilos of shabu from Lee in Mexico, Pampanga but declared only 36 kilos.
The Senate committee reports also said Albayalde committed malfeasance for interfering in the implementation of the dismissal orders against the 13 ninja cops.
PDEA chief Aaron Aquino, in the Senate hearings, testified that Albayalde called him while he was still the director of Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon) and asked him not to implement the dismissal orders against his subordinates, an allegation denied by Albayalde.
The penalty of dismissal was later downgraded to demotion to one rank when Amador Corpus was the regional director of PRO3. Albayalde and Corpus were classmates at PMA Class of 1986.
The Senate committee report also said Albayalde violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by “persuading, inducing, or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations” and “causing undue injury to any party, including the Government.”
The report also cited a testimony made during the hearings that Albayalde allegedly profited from the recycling of the illegal drugs seized by the 13 erring cops.
Guevarra assured Albayalde will be accorded a fair and impartial hearing.
“The DOJ will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of the old and new charges and will afford General Albayalde his right to due process,” Guevarra said.
As for his inclusion in the complaint, Guevarra said it is based on the assessment of the CIDG that the former PNP chief should be held liable for the acts alleged in the complaint.
‘The inclusion of General Albayalde in the amended complaint affidavit filed by the PNP-CIDG before the DOJ today is a reflection of their assessment that General Albayalde may be held criminally liable for the acts or omissions alleged in the complaint,’ he added.
Malacañang said it is leaving to the DOJ the fate of Albayalde and the 13 corrupt Pampanga policemen, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“From the very start we said, if they feel that they have a case against anyone then they can file it and let law takes its course,” Panelo said.
The President had already directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to conduct a separate probe on the issue, assuring everyone of due process. – With Ashzel Hachero and Jocelyn Montemayor