Senate report finds Albayalde liable in ‘ninja cops’ case

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By Charmaine A. Tadalan and Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporters

A JOINT Senate panel has recommended graft charges against resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar D. Albayalde over his alleged involvement in the “monumental cover up” of a 2013 sale of drugs seized from a buy-bust operations by 13 cops.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said the Senate report on the probe involving the rogue officers, who have been tagged “ninja cops,” will be helpful in reinvestigation being conducted by his department.

The Senate committees on Blue Ribbon and Justice and Human Rights, chaired by Senator Richard J. Gordon, released on Friday the first part of its report on its investigation on anomalies within the New Bilibid Prison.

“The findings are he (Mr. Albayalde) is liable for anti-graft, and it would be up for the Ombudsman or the DoJ (Department of Justice),” Mr. Gordon told reporters in a briefing Friday.

“By reasons of of seniority, by reason of his moral superiority, his competence, hindi naman s’ya aabot ng general kung wala siyang alam (he would not have reached the rank o a general if he does not know anything), I think he is very liable.”

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director, had revealed during the committee hearings that the police report from the drug buy-bust declared confiscation of only around 38 kilograms (kg) of drugs, instead of about 200 kg.

The report noted Mr. Albayalde committed malfeasance for interfering in the implementation of the dismissal order issued against the 13 ninja cops, led by Police Major Rodney J. Baloyo IV.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron N. Aquino, in one of the public hearings, disclosed that when he was serving as Central Luzon regional director in 2016, Mr. Albayalde, then acting regional director for Metro Manila, had asked him not to implement the dismissal.

On top of this, retired PNP general Rudy G. Lacadin said in a separate hearing that Mr. Albayalde, in telephone conversation, claimed receiving a small share from the incident.

Mr. Lacadin, however, said he was unsure if the statement was made “jokingly.”

“When you add these two statements, including the pressure of all the generals at that time, Purisima, Petrasanta, lahat ‘yun pinagsama-sama mo (all that put together), including the report of General Ferro, including the court dismissal of the case of Ding Wen Kun… along with the circumstantial evidence… It becomes a very very strong case against General Albayalde and all his men,” Mr. Gordon said.

Former PNP chief Alan L. Purisima was in position when the drug-buy bust took place, while former general Raul D. Petrasanta was the central Luzon police chief, who signed the first dismissal order in 2014.

The report noted Mr. Albayalde violated section 3(a) and 3(e) of Republic act 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” which each prohibited acts of “persuading, inducing, or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations;” and “causing undue injury to any party, including the Government…”

If found guilty, he could face six to 15 years of imprisonment; perpetual disqualification from public office and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the Government of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth.

Moreover, Mr. Albayalde also allegedly violated section 27 of RA No. 9165, or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” for profiting from the drug reselling; and Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code for his interference in the dismissal.

These violations could sentence him to life imprisonment, fined with P500,000 to P10 million, and absolute perpetual disqualification from office.

Mr. Guevarra, meanwhile, told reporters in a mobile phone message, “I’m sure Senator Gordon’s committee will furnish the DoJ (Department of Justice) a copy of its report.”

“This report will surely be useful in the reinvestigation of the alleged drug recycling/ninja cops case currently being conducted by the DoJ. Any relevant evidence presented during the senate hearings may be adopted or presented by any interested party during the DoJ reinvestigation,” he added.

The DoJ is currently reinvestigating the complaint against the policemen and gave the CIDG more time to submit additional evidence against the policemen.

“In any event, if there’s any basis for including General Albayalde in the charges, the PNP/CIDG may amend its complaint o that the same may be covered in the ongoing DoJ investigation,” Mr. Guevarra said.