PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s police chief should consider quitting over his negligence as former Pampanga provincial director that had allowed a multi-million drug recycling scheme by rogue cops in 2013, Senator Richard J. Gordon said yesterday.

“He should consider that option,” Mr. Gordon told reporters, adding that Philippine National Police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde may have been liable for “neglect of duty.”

The lawmaker also said he was dismayed that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron N. Aquino downplayed his initial testimony about Mr. Albayalde trying to stop the 13 cops’ dismissal back then.

Mr. Albayalde did not answer a call and mobile-phone message seeking his comment.

Mr. Albayalde allegedly tried to stop the dismissal of 13 rogue cops who recycled illegal drugs in an illicit business that leads all the way to the Philippines’ national jail and several regional police offices.

Mr. Albayalde had intervened in the dismissal of the cops from Pampanga in 2016, when he was still acting regional director for Metro Manila, Mr. Aquino earlier told senators investigating corruption inside the country’s jails. Mr. Aquino was a former regional director for central Luzon.

Mr. Aquino said Mr. Albayalde had asked him to review the cases of the 13 officers because they were his people.

Mr. Aquino narrated his phone conversation with Mr. Albayalde on the prodding of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who sat beside the PDEA chief during the hearing. Mr. Magalong, who first divulged the involvement of rogue cops in the illegal drug trade inside jails, was a director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at that time.

Mr. Albayalde confirmed the 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.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Senator Panfilo M. Lacson saw no need for Mr. Albayalde to quit before his retirement in November.

“As the present PNP chief, I don’t think his credibility is affected,” he told reporters at a separate briefing.

The PNP would continue its internal cleansing and campaign against unscrupulous police officers involved in illegal drug recycling, spokesman Bernard M. Banac said yesterday.

Mr. Magalong 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.

But further investigation showed the police had seized about 200 kilos of illegal drugs worth P648 million. 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.

Senator Richard J. Gordon said the phone conversation gives the panel a reason to question Mr. Albayalde. “He was very very negligent, at the most he was extremely not looking at the ball,” he said.

“When something is under investigation, you don’t call somebody.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan