DOJ indicts Albayalde, 12 cops in 2013 Pampanga drug raid

MANILA — The Department of Justice ordered on Thursday the filing of criminal charges against retired Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde and 12 others in relation to the controversial anti-drug operation in Pampanga in November 2013. 

In a resolution, the panel of prosecutors who re-investigated the case found probable cause to charge Albayalde with violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 

The panel anchored its findings on Albayalde’s non-implementation of an order penalizing the police officers involved in the assailed drug operation.

Meanwhile, Supt. Rodney Raymundo Louie Juico Baloyo IV; Insp. Joven Bagnot De Guzman, Jr.; Senior Police Officer 1 Jules Lacap Maniago; SPO1 Donald Castro Roque; SPO1 Ronald Bayas Santos, SPO1 Rommel Muñoz Vital; SPO1 Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio; PO3 Dindo Singian Dizon; PO3 Gilbert Angeles De Vera; PO3 Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero, Jr.; SPO1 Eligio Dayos Valeroso; and SPO1 Dante Mercado Dizon were indicted for the following offenses in violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002:

-Misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs

-Planting of evidence

-Delay and bungling in the prosecution of drugs cases

The panel also recommended the filing of charges against Albayalde and the 12 police officers for qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code. 

It found that Baloyo and his men misappropriated drugs when they declared that only 36.60 kilograms of shabu was seized during their operations, while the subsequent police investigation indicated that about 200 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride was actually recovered.

The group of policemen likewise declared the cash they obtained from the operation to be only PHP300,000 while the evidence indicated that said amount reached PHP10 million. 

The panel based the actual volume of the drugs and amount of money seized during the operation on, among others, the declaration contained in the Affidavit of Direct Participation of de Guzman and nine other respondents.

Some of the respondents were likewise found to have failed to declare and account for a Toyota Fortuner vehicle which was also seized during the operation. 

The panel also found Baloyo’s group chargeable with the crimes of planting of evidence, bungling of the prosecution of a drug case, and qualified bribery.  

It noted that the group: (a) illegally arrested one Ding Wenkun instead of Johnson Lee from whom they seized the drugs; and (b) implicated or imputed upon Wenkun the crime of illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs despite their knowledge that it was Lee who should be charged therefor. The case against Wenkun was eventually dismissed by the court.

The panel recommended the filing of an information for violating regulations issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board regarding the chain of custody of evidence against Guerrero and Santos, information for falsification by a public officer against Baloyo who made untruthful statements in his Spot Report and Progress Report regarding the operation; and another information for false testimony and perjury in solemn affirmation against Santos and Guerrerro Jr. who made untruthful statements in their affidavit of arrest against Wenkun.  

The panel’s findings against Albayalde will be endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman which has primary jurisdiction over crimes falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.  

Under Republic Act 10660, the Sandiganbayan has exclusive original jurisdiction in cases involving PNP officers occupying the position of provincial director and holding the rank of senior superintendent and higher.  

In October last year, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the reinvestigation of the case, after the original complaint filed against Baloyo’s group was dismissed by the then investigating prosecutor for insufficiency of evidence. 

In the same resolution, the DOJ said the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group failed to provide enough evidence to show that Albayalde had a hand in the misappropriation of seized drugs in a 2013 raid.

“The panel only found probable cause against P/Gen Albayalde for violation of the law against graft and corrupt practices act. It found that the acts attributed to Albayalde happened after the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs operations of the Baloyo group,” Justice Undersecretary and DOJ Spokesperson Markk Perete said.

In coming up with a new resolution, the panel relied on additional evidence presented by the parties and their witnesses, as well as on the report on the Senate investigation led by Senator Richard Gordon.  Benjamin Pulta /PNA –