THE Senate has sufficient evidence to pin down embattled PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde on his links with “ninja cops.”
Senators made the statement yesterday a day after Albayalde complained active and retired police generals were ganging up on him over a questionable drug bust operation carried out six years ago.
Sen. Richard Gordon said the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees have collated documentary and testimonial evidence to back allegations linking Albayalde to “agaw-bato” operations of rogue cops previously assigned to Pampanga during the time that he was the Pampanga police provincial office director.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, Gordon said former Central Luzon regional police chief Gen. Rudy Lacadin executed a sworn statement regarding the allegations he hurled during the Wednesday hearing.
Lacadin has claimed Albayalde told him over the phone that he got “only a little” of the crystal meth (shabu) seized by 13 provincial police officers in a sham buy bust raid carried out in November 2013.
“This is a sworn statement; he (Lacadin) is a general, officer of good repute,” Gordon said of Lacadin.
“These are not all circumstantial evidence because there are witnesses who said he (Albayalde) talked to me, there was money involved,” Gordon also said.
“When you take it together with the other evidence – the approaches to (PDEA 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.
Reminded that President Duterte has demanded for “clear proof” against Albayalde, the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees said, “I think we have.”
Minority floor leader Franklin Drilon said the testimonies in the Senate hearings over the past two weeks can be used by the Department of Justice to pursue Albayalde’s criminal conviction.
“The evidence is strong that if they cannot mount a sufficient defense, then they will be convicted on the basis of what we heard,” Drilon, a former justice secretary, said.
Drilon stressed: “Alibi is the weakest defense.”
Even if Albayalde may not be the mastermind, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said it was possible for him to be at least “an accessory after the fact,” or someone who learned about a crime but covered it up.
“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,” Lacson said in a statement.
The senators were making public their impressions on the testimonies made by Lacadin during the Wednesday hearing, and the statements of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino that Albayalde had called him in late 2016 asking him not to implement the dismissal of the 13 police officers involved in the drug bust operation.
The policemen, led by then-provincial intelligence chief Lt. Col. Rodney Raymundo Baloyo, were ordered dismissed from the PNP way back in 2014. The dismissal was later toned down to one-rank demotion after the Pampanga cops filed an appeal in 2016.
The dismissal order came after police investigators questioned the unauthorized and uncoordinated raid carried out on November 29, 2013 on the house of one Jackson Lee at the Woodbridge Subdivision in Lakeshore, Mexico.
Investigators have accused the 13 police officers who raided Lee’s house of covering up the illegal operation and declaring only 38 of the 200 kilograms of shabu that they seized. The cops likewise said the policemen allowed Lee to escape in exchange for a P50 million bribe. A fall guy named Ding Wenkun was instead presented to the public as a fall guy.
Albayalde stood his ground and maintained he has nothing to do with the illegal activities of Baloyo and the other Pampanga cops.
He raised anew the timing of the resurrected drug allegations and decried what he called as a conspiracy of former police officials to pin him down.
“I question the timing of this attack and smear campaign against me. Until now, despite the Senate hearings conducted, no hard evidence was ever presented showing that I was involved in that drug raid in Pampanga in 2013. All statements made remain allegations, insinuations, and unsubstantiated,” Albayalde said.
“All those police officials ganging up on me have ill motives against me and obviously all worked with the previous administration,” Albayalde added.
Yesterday, the police chief denied calling Lacadin, as the latter had testified during the Senate hearing last Wedneseday. Lacadin was the deputy of former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
The PNP chief reiterated Lacadin was never a friend but just a franchisee of their water refilling business way back in 2011.
Albayalde said he is mulling filing cases against Lacadin. “Lacadin has a lot of explaining to do and he will have his day in court,” he said but refused to elaborate.
Also yesterday, the PNP dismissed as rumors text messages sent to members of the media that Albayalde has resigned from his post amid the Senate hearings on the ninja cops.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said Albayalde has not resigned and will only bow out of the PNP once ordered by the President.
Banac said Albayalde is bent on finishing his term until November 8 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
“The PNP dispels the rumor circulating in social media that the PNP chief, Police General Oscar Albayalde has resigned from his post. As repeatedly stated by Police General Albayalde, ‘I leave my fate to the decision of the President.’ He is ready to turn-over his post to anyone selected by the President to lead the PNP,” Banac said.
Members of the media yesterday received a text message from SIM number +63999 392-31-79 which said Albayalde has already vacated the top police post.
“JUST NOW: PNP CHIEF Gen. Oscar Albayalde has tendered his resignation. Please check with Malacanang,” the text message read.
The Department of Justice has summoned the 13 former Pampanga police operatives to a hearing set on October 16.
In a one-page order signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez, Baloyo and the other respondents were required to “to appear for the reinvestigation and to submit any additional evidence before us on October 16, 2019.’
Aside from Baloyo, also summoned were Capt. Joven Bognot de Guzman Jr.; Master Sgts. Jules Lacap Maniago, Donald Castro Roque, Ronald Bayas Santos, Rommel Munoz Vital, Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio and Eligio Dayos Valeroso; Staff Sgts. Dindo Singian Dizon, Gilbert Angeles Devera, Encarnacion Guerrero Jr. and Dante Dizon and Cpl. Anthony Loleng Lacsamana.
The 13 accused have been charged with violation of Sections 27(misappropriation), 21 (planting of evidence) and 32 (custody and disposition of evidence). The charges have already been previously dismissed but are still subject of a review by the secretary of justice.
The prosecution team has 30 days to complete its reinvestigation on the ninja cops.
Aside from Suarez, the panel is also composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina Dugay and Gino Paulo Santiago as members.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Malacañang will wait for the final results and recommendations of the Senate and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the ninja cops issue and on Albayalde before making any decision or taking further actions.
“Sinabi natin na hayaan mo iyang Senado na mag-imbestiga, magkaroon sila ng findings.
Hayaan mo si DILG secretary mag-imbetsiga at magkaroon ng findings. Then the President will act on it (We said just let the Senate investigate, come up with their findings. Let the DILG secretary investigate and come up with his findings. Then the President will act on it),” Panelo said.
Military Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio called for the provision of due process for Albayalde as he appealed to the public to give Albayalde the fair treatment that he is entitled to instead of having him publicly “crucified.”
“I wish that these accusations be cleared immediately in the proper procedures of due process because he is entitled to it,” Florencio said.
He, however, stressed that due process does not mean that seeking the truth and accountability should take long.
“The issue is very sensitive and we pray that it be resolved the soonest as many are affected by it,” said the head of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines.
Florencio said it is imperative that the ninja cops be held accountable for supposedly failing to follow normal police procedures.
“It is but natural that we have to be saddened and frustrated by some members of our organization (ninja cops), who are into recycling of confiscated illegal substances. But we cannot condone this,” he said.
“We need to rectify and make the proper and corresponding measures on those who are involved here,” added Florencio. – With Raymond Africa, Ashzel Hachero, Jocelyn Montemayor and Gerard Naval