'Tarnished' PNP stint? Senators doubt, defend Albayalde

MANILA, Philippines – While senators agreed that Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde would most likely finish his term amid claims that he intervened for rogue cops 6 years ago, they differed on how the allegation may impact his legacy in the PNP.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday, October 2, that the serious allegation has "tarnished" Albayalde's PNP stint which ends when he retires in early November.

"Isang buwan na lang siya (He has only one month left). Whatever happens, indeed, his stint as PNP chief is tarnished by this revelation. It's a very serious allegation," Drilon said.

"Given the tokhang campaign, which has killed thousands of people and supposedly drug dealers, the drug campaign loses its credibility when you hear of these allegations between high-ranking officials of the PNP," Drilon added.

The supposed intervention came to light during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, October 1, when Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino bared that Albayalde had called him when they were still police regional directors for Central Luzon and Metro Manila, respectively.

Albayalde had asked him to "review" the 2013 drug buybust case in Mexico, Pampanga, that led to dismissal orders against 13 cops who were under him he was Pampanga police director. Albayalde admitted making the call but denied he tried to infuence the case. (READ: 'Spectacle of a grand cover-up': Senate hearing bares how 'ninja cops' remain in service)

Senator Richard Gordon, Senate blue ribbon committee chairman, shared the view that Albayalde's action then was "inappropriate" and that he should consider resigning ahead of his mandatory retirement if he failed to explain the "ninja" cops issue.

"The whole PNP is now under question on [a] very, very important issue on ninja cops. 'Pag hindi 'nya (Albayalde) mapaliwanag 'yan (If he can't explain that), he should really be resigning," Gordon said.

'No need to resign'

Other senators believe that Albayalde should not step down from his post, among them, Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief himself.

"I don’t think it is a practical move for him to retire early. This is not to mention that there is no evidence presented as of now that would implicate him directly or otherwise, in the misconduct committed by his men 6 years ago," Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III believed that Albayalde's credibility "is not affected" by the November 2013 buybust case.

"I don’t see anything that involves any untoward issues against General Albayalde from the time he became the PNP chief to the present," Sotto said.

On the part of Malacañang, President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he would await the report  of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on the 2013 case before deciding on the fate of Albaylde. 

The issue resurfaced when retired policeman and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong bared the names of the cops involved in "drug recycling" during an executive session at the Senate on September 19. A few days later, the Senate authorized Gordon's committee to make the information public.

Sotto also defended Magalong from those questioning the retired cop's motive for exposing Albayalde, saying Magalong only revealed what he knew in response to senators' questions at the Senate probe.

"Hindi totoo 'yung sinasabi na bigla na lang after 6 years, nilabas nang lahat 'yan. Hindi (It's incorrect to say that this was just suddenly revealed after 6 years. No). It was unearthed by the committee because of the connection to the [drug] recycling in the National Bilibid Prison," Sotto said. 

The Senate President was apparently referring to Albayalde's statements at the Senate hearing on October 1, questioning the motive of Magalong for resurrecting the ninja cops case now, 6 years later. – 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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