GOVERNMENT prosecutors will soon decide the complaint against President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s former police chief and 13 cops accused of recycling illegal drugs seized from a legitimate operation in 2013.
The Justice department has submitted the graft and drug trafficking case against ex-police chief Oscar D. Albayalde and 13 policemen involved in a questionable operations in 2013, Senior State Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Q. Suarez told reporters at yesterday’s hearing.
The agency earlier reopened the case and included Mr. Albayalde in an amended complaint after senators investigating corruption in the country’s jails found that he had allegedly intervened in the firing of the cops before he became police chief.
Mr. Albayalde earlier challenged the authority of the Justice department to reopen the complaint, noting that a preliminary probe may only be re-opened when it has been submitted for resolution but before its promulgation.
A Senate committee earlier recommended the filing of criminal charges against the police officers.
The Justice department re-opened the case after former CIDG chief Benjamin B. Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, disclosed at a Senate hearing last month the involvement of the 13 cops in a questionable buy-bust operation on Nov. 29, 2013.
The cops claimed to have seized 38 kilos of drugs but an investigation showed that they seized about 200 kilos of illegal drugs worth P648 million and about P10 million in cash. The suspected drug trafficker also paid them P50 million to present a different person, Mr. Magalong had said.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron N. Aquino told senators that during a probe when he was still Central Luzon regional director, Mr. Albayalde, then acting regional director for Metro Manila, had sought to stop the dismissal of the 13 cops in 2016.
Mr. Albayalde, who resigned before his retirement, earlier asked prosecutors to dismiss the complaint for lack of merit.
The former police chief said in a filing that at the time he made the special report on the operation, he “had no reason to doubt the truthfulness” of the account made by another police officer.
Mr. Albayalde also said records of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearings are “replete with testimony that are inadmissible” in the preliminary investigation because they are hearsay, coerced statements, opinion and answers to leading questions.
He reiterated that the DoJ has no authority to re-open the probe. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas