PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON Salvador S. Panelo has brushed off observations that he seemed to be “lawyering” for resigned Philippine National Police chief Oscar D. Albayalde who has been accused of involvement in the 2013 drug recycling scheme in Pampanga.

“My statement during the press briefing with the Malacañang Press Corps last Monday, October 14, was an honest assessment of a public proceeding and was an exercise of the freedom of speech for which every Filipino citizen is entitled,” Mr. Panelo said in a statement Thursday.

Mr. Albayalde has been accused of intervening in the implementation of the dismissal order issued against the thirteen Pampanga cops involved in the drug recycling scheme. Mr. Panelo on Monday sided with Mr. Albayalde, who claimed his innocence after hurdling three investigations without facing any charges.

Mr. Panelo said the testimonies against Mr. Albayalde were “hearsay” or weak.

“It is basic that a conclusion of guilt should be pronounced only after an investigation or hearing, or a senate inquiry for that matter, has been terminated… My remarks cannot — and should not — be viewed as a challenge or an affront to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, its chairmanship or its present investigation,” Mr. Panelo said.

The committee, led by Senator Richard J. Gordon, was set to release its findings on the alleged ninja cop operation, as well as other anomalies in the New Bilibid Prison on Thursday evening. — Charmaine A. Tadalan