MANILA, Philippines – "Actually, Sir, konti lang naman napunta sa 'kin diyan (I only got a little there)."
Retired police general Rudy Lacadin claimed before a Senate panel on Wednesday, October 9, that this was what Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde – who was Pampanga police chief then – told him in a phone call when Lacadin was conducting a district-level probe into the questionable 2013 drug operation in Mexico, Pampanga.
Lacadin, who was then PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group deputy director, recounted that Albayalde called him sometime after he was ordered by then-CIDG chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to conduct the investigation. Lacadin was a former CIDG officer in Central Luzon.
"There was a time during the investigation, I remember he was, I think the PD of Pampanga. He called me. Ang naalala ko [sabi niya], 'Sir, iimbestigahan 'nyo raw kami.' Sabi ko, 'Yes, Oca. I did not inform you. But if you have nothing to hide, wala ka naman dapat katakutan,'" Lacadin recounted before the Senate blue ribbon committee.
(There was a time during the investigation, I remember he was, I think the PD of Pampanga. He called me. What I remember was [he said], "Sir, I heard you will be investigating us." I said: "Yes, Oca. I did not inform you. But if you have nothing to hide, you don't have anything to fear.")
Lacadin added. "I didn't know if jokingly, he said, 'Actually sir, konti lang naman napunta sa'kin diyan (Actually sir, I only got little from that).'"
Albayalde, who was at the hearing, denied the allegation and accused the retired general of being part of a "conspiracy" to bring him down.
"I really don't know anong conspiracy dito (what's the conspiracy here). They're ganging up on me. Kung sabihin mong sinabi ko sa'yo 'yun (If you say that I told you that), why was I not charged?"
Thirteen cops – who were previously under Albayalde when he was Pampanga provincial police chief – were involved in an anomalous drug operation. That illegal operation led to an order to dismiss the cops, but it was never implemented and later downgraded to a demotion. (READ: 'Spectacle of a grand cover-up': Senate hearing bares how 'ninja cops' remain in service)
Senator Panfilo Lacson then asked Lacadin to clarify the context behind the conversation, just to be certain that Albayalde made the comment in relation to the particular drug operation.
"The premise of the conversation was on the investigation that I was conducting at that time," Lacadin said.
Lacadin, who maintained that he had no personal issues with Albayalde, also said that he was not sure if Albayalde made the remark jest.
Albayalde questioned the timing of the allegation. He had raised this same question when Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino confirmed in a past Senate hearing that the top cop intervened in the dismissal of the Pampanga cops – a revelation that was made in response to senators' questions.
"Why after 6 years? Why didn't this come out during the conduct of investigation? I was not charged administratively…. I'm being crucified already. All of a sudden after 6 years, bigla pala akong may ganun (I have something like that)," Albayalde said.
Magalong said during the hearing that Albayalde kept on denying his involvement in the 2013 drug raid, even when he was up for deliberation as PNP chief.
"Again he is denying it. Someone here is lying. It is not General Lacadin. It is not me, the other police officers. Someone else. Siya po (He is)," Magalong said, referring to Albayalde.
Later at the hearing, Senator Richard Gordon asked why Lacadin did not file a sworn statement on the conversation. Lacadin said that he would not be able to do that because there was no pending case against Albayalde on the drug raid.
"It will be his words against mine," Lacadin said.
Responding to senators' questions on why Albayalde was not charred, former PNP chief Alan Purisima said, "During that time the investigation was being conducted, there was no evidence yet on the involvement of General Albayalde."
Reinstatement of dismissed cops
During the hearing, Lacadin volunteered that cops who had been dismissed because of drug-related cases were reinstated through the National Police Commission (Napolcom).
"I conducted a background review of the dismissed police personnel and I found that dismissed police personnel because of the drug cases where reinstated back in the police service through the Napolcom," Lacadin said.
"Totoo ito (This is true), if you will conduct an inventory on the police on drug offense, makikita po ninyo (you will see)," Lacadin added.
Drilon, who called the practice a "web of conspiracy," said it may be the reason why case records do not have enough evidence for scrutiny.
"Others would have no choice but to dismiss it, because they cannot consider anything outside what was indicated in the case folder. [There's a] conspiracy to cover-up so that the case folder is drafted in a manner that you have no choice," said Drilon, a former justice secretary.
"Wala kang magawa (You can't do anything) because that is what is presented. Evidence can be manipulated," he added.
At the hearing, Central Luzon legal officer Judy Santos-Lopez said that the recommendation to lower the sanction to the 13 cops from dismissal to one-rank demotion was due to the evidence available on the case folder. – Rappler.com
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