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Duterte’s ex-police chief faces graft, drug suits

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PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
Reporters

PHILIPPINE police have recommended the indictment of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s former police chief and 13 other cops accused of recycling illegal drugs from legitimate police operations.

In a 32-page amended complaint, the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) sought the filing of charges against resigned police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde.

Mr. Albayalde quit after being accused of trying to stop in 2016 the firing of the rogue cops from Pampanga over a questionable anti-drug operation in 2013.

The CIDG accused him of graft for interfering and getting a small share from the rogue cops’ operation.

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Mr. Albayalde was also accused of lying in his report in 2013 regarding the police operation and failing to prosecute the 13 policemen.

“All elements are present in this case when Police Superintendent Albayalde deliberately failed to file and prosecute the case against Police Major Rodney J. Baloyo IV and his team, because they were his men,” according to a copy of the complaint.

Meanwhile, three of the 13 cops have been dismissed for another offense involving a buy-bust operation in Antipolo early this year, police officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Francisco Gamboa said at a briefing at the police headquarters in Camp Crame on Monday.

“We will abide by whatever will be the final outcome of the review by the Department of Justice regarding the Nov. 29, 2013 drug bust in Pampanga,” he said.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron N. Aquino told senators investigating corruption inside the country’s jails that Mr. Albayalde had asked him to review the cases of the 13 officers because they were his men.

Mr. Aquino was the regional director for Central Luzon back then, while Mr. Albayalde was the acting director for the National Capital Region. He also used to be the director of Pampanga province when the drug raid took place in 2013.

Mr. Albayalde has confirmed the conversation but said he was only checking the status of the cases against the policemen.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who used to head the CIDG, had first divulged the involvement of rogue cops in the illegal drug trade inside jails.

He earlier told the Senate that on Nov. 29, 2013 the Pampanga Provincial Police Office conducted a buy-bust operation, and reported seizing only 38 kilograms of drugs and the arrest of a Chinese drug trafficker.

But further investigation showed the police had seized about 200 kilos of illegal drugs worth P648 million and about P10 million in cash. Findings also showed the drug trafficker had paid P50 million to the police to present a different Chinese national in his place, Mr. Magalong said.

Mr. Magalong said he later filed a case against the cops in 2014. An order for their dismissal was never implemented, he said.

Retired police General Rudy G. Lacadin told a Senate hearing the former police chief had admitted receiving a share from the police raid. He said he was unsure whether it was made in jest.

Senator Richard J. Gordon on Friday released the first part of the report of the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees recommending graft charges against Mr. Albayalde.

The Justice department will conduct a “fair and thorough investigation of the old and new charges and will accord General Albayalde his right to due process,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said in a mobile-phone message yesterday.

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