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Albayalde welcomes graft charges: 'The truth will bear me out in the end'

MANILA, Philippines – Former police chief Oscar Albayalde on Friday, January 17, welcomed the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommendation to file graft charges against him over a 2013 drug recycling case, saying it would "finally" give him a chance to clear his name in the proper forum.

Albayalde, who was Pampanga police chief when his men figured in a controversial buy-bust operation that became the subject of a Senate inquiry last year, made the statement a day after a DOJ panel released its recommendations on the case.

“I welcome this development as the chance to once and for all clear my name in the proper forum. Finally, I will have my day in court,” Albayalde said in a statement on Friday.

“My conscience remains clear and I am confident that the truth will bear me out in the end,” he added.

The PNP said in a statement that it respected the findings of the DOJ, but reiterated its position that Albayalde was innocent until proven guilty. (READ: From top cop to 'coddler': Oscar Albayalde's fall from grace)

“The PNP respects the findings of the DOJ. Former PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde was given a fair chance to explain his side. Still, the DOJ panel found probable cause to indict him for graft,” the PNP said.

“However, he remains innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” it added. 

The DOJ recommended graft charges against Albayalde for allegedly meddling in the case of his  subordinates implicated in a drug recycling case when he was Pampanga police chief.

In November 2013, the Pampanga police raiding team under Albayalde reported a buy-bust operation that yielded over 30 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine) and the arrest of a suspect in Mexico, Pampanga. Months later, an independent police probe revealed that the cops did not declare over 160 kilograms of shabu and arrested a fall guy instead of the real suspect.

Three retired police generals, testifying under oath before an October 2019 Senate investigation into “ninja cops” or police who resell seized illegal drugs,  accused Albayalde of trying to influence the administrative probe of his subordinates. (READ: 'Spectacle of a grand cover-up': Senate hearing bares how 'ninja cops' remain in service)

The DOJ panel cleared Albayalde of all drug-related offenses, bribery, and negligence, but indicted the 12 members of the raiding team under him of misappropriation/misapplication of seized drugs, planting of evidence, delay in prosecution of drug charges, qualified bribery, and graft. 

‘Warning’

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Albayalde’s indictment should serve as a warning to rogue cops.

“An indictment of a former top cop should send a clear signal to unscrupulous members of the police force involved in the recycling of seized illegal drugs: your days are numbered,” Drilon said in a statement on Friday. 

“You may not be caught today or tomorrow but, certainly, the law will catch up with you and send you behind bars. The justice system may be slow but no one can escape from it,” said Drilon, a former justice secretary.

The senator lauded the DOJ for its recommendation, noting that “anything less than that would have been a mockery and a slap in the face of Philippine justice system.”  

“It is only when we stop the impunity that we can truly end this decades-old problem of recycling of illegal drugs perpetuated by these so-called ninja cops, the very same people in charge of this administration’s bloody anti-illegal drug war that has killed over 5,000 Filipinos,” Drilon said. – Rappler.com