Albayalde’s resignation doesn’t mean he’s off the hook

MANILA — Senator Richard Gordon and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde’s decision to relinquish his post ahead of his mandatory retirement next month does not get him off the hook from any possible liabilities arising from the Pampanga “ninja cops” issue.

“Definitely, he’s not off the hook. Retirement does not get him off the hook,” Gordon said in an interview.

The chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said Albayalde’s alleged inaction during his time as Pampanga provincial director when the controversy started, and his succeeding actions until he became PNP chief, may have opened the latter to a host of administrative and criminal liabilities.

Gordon said these included not investigating his own men upon knowing of the controversial operation, giving awards to them and to himself on the merit of the said operation, and meddling with the subsequent investigation of his men when he became a general, among others.

“There is really a surfeit of evidence that was collected from the time it started — from the time he did not do anything about it, to the time he was giving inaccurate information (in the Senate investigation),” the lawmaker said.

“We are looking at the minimum neglect of duty, possible corruption and possible conspiracy to distribute drugs,” Gordon said.

Drilon shared Gordon’s sentiments, saying that Albayalde’s continued stay as PNP chief has become untenable.

“His resignation ahead of his mandatory retirement, however, will not in any way clear him from his liability, both administratively or criminally, in connection with the Pampanga ‘ninja cops’ issue,” Drilon said in a statement.

“Albayalde’s continued defense and his failure to condemn the acts, of Major Rodney Baloyo, and his men, in the face of the evidence indicated complicity to the criminal conduct of his men. Worse, he may have had a hand in the cover-up,” he said.

For Senator Panfilo Lacson, Albayalde’s statements prior to his formal announcement to relinquish command of the 190,000-strong police force “have somehow diminished the redeeming value of his intent to spare the PNP from the so-called ‘ninja cops’ controversies.”

The former Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduate said that while he did not want to cast judgment on Albayalde’s character, who is also a PMAer, it is a sad reality that “many PMA graduates have been eaten by the corrupt and corrupting system of law enforcement.”

“Having said that, Mayor Benjamin Magalong and retired Gen. Manuel Gaerlan and the others who testified in our committee hearings to spill the beans on Baloyo et al which led to Gen. Albayalde’s possible complicity after the fact deserve all the salute and commendations from our fellow cavaliers and the Filipino people for doing their part not to tolerate those among us Peemayers who violated the honor code,” Lacson said in a statement.

“The old phrase — ‘the long arm of the law’ — has its way of catching up with criminal offenders. Let that be a reminder to the likes of Baloyo and his cohorts,” he added.

In the meantime, Gordon said Albayalde’s resignation will give the PNP and the people some “respite” from the controversy.

“It gives the PNP a respite kasi naka-focus sa kanila (because the focus is on them). It also gives him a respite so that he will have time to prepare for what is coming. I think he’s already preparing for that,” he said.

Magkakaroon ng respite ang tao, pero hindi papayag ang tao palagay ko na makakalusot sila (The people will also get some respite, but I think they would not allow them to walk free),” Gordon said.

On the other hand, Drilon called for a strict and better vetting procedure for PNP officers.

“We expect a better vetting process should be instituted in the selection of next PNP chief, and in general, in the assignment of PNP officers,” he said.

“The next PNP chief will have to work doubly hard to regain the credibility of the police community and the government’s drug war,” Gordon said.  Jose Cielito Reganit / PNA –