Senate panels recommend criminal charges vs Albayalde, 'ninja cops' over 2013 drug raid

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate blue ribbon and justice committees have recommended the filing of criminal charges against former Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde and the 13 cops involved in an irregular drug operation in Pampanga in 2013. 

Senator Richard Gordon, who presided the marathon hearings on drug recycling in the PNP as chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, presented the 46-page draft committee report to the media on Friday, October 18.

The Senate panels recommended that Albayalde and the 13 cops be charged for violation of  Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for alleged misappropriation of drugs. (READ: 'Spectacle of a grand cover-up': Senate hearing bares how 'ninja cops' remain in service)

The senator said that Albayalde also violated RA No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he asked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, who was then the head of Central Luzon police, not to implement the dismissal order against the 13 cops.

He said Albayalde committed the same offense when he told retired general Rudy Lacadin, who was then the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group deputy director, that he only "got a little" from the 2013 drug operations.

The senator added that the resigned top cop, who was Pampanga provincial chief when the questionable operation was conducted – "caused undue injury to the State," and that the latter and the 13 cops were "guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance."

Guilty?

"Do I think they're guilty? Yes," Gordon told reporters.

"We are passing it on to the Secretary of Justice and to the Ombudsman. It is up to them if they want to file a case," he added.

The Department of Justice is reinvestigating the case.

Gordon said he needs 11 signatures from members of the Senate blue ribbon committee and another 5 signatures from members of the Senate justice committee. The senator was only able to send copies of the draft report to senators this noon.

A simple majority or 13 votes is needed for the report to be adopted by the Senate. Congress will be in session starting November 4.

The marathon hearings on drug recycling was focused on the 2013 anomalous drug raid in Mexico, Pampanga. The team was led by former Pampanga anti-illegal drug operations task group chief Joven de Guzman Jr and  former Pampanga intelligence chief Raymund Baloyo IV, along with 11 others:

The group was supposed to go after Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee, but instead arrested another suspected drug dealer, Ding Wenkun, in the highly irregular drug operation that led to a PNP investigation.

The 13 cops were ordered dismissed, but this was later downgraded to a one-rank demotion. During the Senate hearings, it was learned that Albayalde had intervened in the dismissal of his former men.

Days after another retired police general implicated him in the 2013 drug operation at a Senate hearing, Albayalde resigned on Monday, October 14, ahead of his mandatory retirement on November 8. In his resignation letter, he denied involvement in the irregularities of the 2013 drug operation. He would still enjoy his retirement benefits as a 4-star general. 

The issue of "ninja cops" resurfaced on September 19, when retired police general and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong bared in an executive session the involvement of the 13 ninja cops in the anomalous operation. Magalong said it was among the examples of drug recycling. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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