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Police chief allegedly sought halt to cops’ firing

National Police chief Oscar D. Albayalde had sought a halt to the dismissal of 13 rogue cops accused of recycling illegal drugs seized from legitimate police operations in 2013, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron N. Aquino told senators yesterday.

“You might want to defer the implementation of the order,” Mr. Albayalde, who was acting regional director for Metro Manila back in 2016, told Mr. Aquino in mixed English and Filipino. The latter was the regional director for Central Luzon at that time.

Mr. Albayalde had interceded because the cops were his “people,” Mr. Aquino told the Senate hearing. Mr. Aquino then told him he would ask his legal office to review the case before sending Mr. Albayalde’s men to Mindanao.

Mr. Albayalde earlier confirmed the phone conversation but said he was only checking the status of the cases against the policemen who were set to be fired over a questionable anti-drug operation in 2013.

Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Benjamin B. Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, told the Senate on Tuesday 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.

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But further investigation showed the police had seized about 200 kilos of illegal drugs worth P648 million and about P10 million in case. Findings also showed the drug trafficker had paid P50 million for 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. — CAT


Palace hits US senator for interference

Malacañang on Thursday hit US Senator Patrick Leahy, asking him to focus instead on issues in his country.

“US Senator Patrick Leahy simply does not get it,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement yesterday.

“It may be best for him to address the issues his country is facing rather than looking for other concerns which belong to a separate and independent state.”

Mr. Leahy, together with US Senator Dick Durbin last week, said a US Senate panel had approved their proposal to ban Philippine officials involved in the detention of Senator Leila M. De Lima from entering the US.

The two senators were also among those who sponsored a resolution urging the Philippine government to release Ms. de Lima.

The senator has been in detention since February 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as justice secretary.

Mr. Panelo said Ms. de Lima was being given a “fair, public trial, as due process requires,.” — CAT


Bill creating Water department filed

Albay Rep. Jose Ma. S. Salceda has filed a bill creating a Department of Water Resources Management and the Water Regulatory Commission.

House Bill 4944 or the National Water Act of 2019 will seek to address the country’s “fragmented and uncoordinated” management of water resources.

“There is an urgent need for an integrated and coordinated planning and implementation of programs and projects that promote synchronized, sustainable and science-based management of the country’s water resources,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.

This would address the imbalance in water resource use, reduced water availability, declining water quality, flooding and other water-related issues in many parts of the country, he said.

The Department of Water Resources Management will be the primary agency for planning, policy formulation, appropriation, use, development, conservation and protection of the country’s water resources.

The Water Regulatory Commission will be an independent, quasi-judicial body under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It will impose price controls, void contracts and impose fines and penalties. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras


DoJ seeks tougher drug laws

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said the laws against illegal drugs should be re-evaluated after allegations that law enforcement agencies have been involved in illegal drug deals.

“Such re-evaluation and scrutiny constitute an important first step in giving sharper teeth to our laws so that we may effectively curb the menace of dangerous drugs and put out of circulation not only substances injurious to the health of our people but also those who choose to deal in them,” he said yesterday. — VMMV


SC orders gov’t to answer convicts’ suit

The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the government to comment on a lawsuit questioning the revised rules on the early release of prisoners for good conduct.

The high court gave the Office of the Solicitor General, who is representing the state, 10 days to answer, Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin said.

Eight convicts at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City earlier asked the court to void the rules implementing a law on the early release of inmates for good conduct. The felons questioned the validity of the rules, which disqualify recidivists, escapees, habitual delinquents and convicts of heinous crimes from early release for good conduct.

They also asked the court to order jail officials to refrain from retroactively applying the exclusions in the law and recompute their time allowances. The plaintiffs said the exclusion on credit for preventive imprisonment should not be applied retroactively

Mr. Bersamin said the court has yet to decide whether to hold hearings on the case.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier fired his prison chief Nicanor E. Faeldon for allowing the release of about 2,000 felons convicted of various heinous crimes. The law disqualifies them from early release for good conduct.

The Justice department and Department of Interior and Local Government have revised the rules implementing the law on early release for good conduct, disqualifying recidivists, escapees, habitual delinquents and convicts of heinous crimes. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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