A SLEW of criminal charges were filed on Monday against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde for his alleged complicity in the recycling and selling of seized illegal drugs by so-called “ninja cops.”
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) an amended complaint naming Albayalde as a respondent. He will join the 13 police officers, or the ninja cops, who were earlier charged by the police before the Justice department.
Lt. Col. Joseph Orsos, CIDG counsel, filed the complaint at the office of Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento.
Albayalde was charged with violation of SectionS 27, 29, 32 and 92 of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the ‘Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002;’ qualified bribery; falsification of public documents; perjury; and dereliction of duty.
Orsos said the case was based on the testimony of resource persons who attended the Senate investigation of the recycling of drugs. Based on what was gathered by the Senate, Orsos said Albayalde “is probably liable.”
He, however, admitted that “there is no strong single evidence” against the former police chief.
Orsos explained that the drug charges arose from the phone calls made by Albayalde to other police officials because “somehow he’s trying to persuade on behalf of other respondents.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Albayalde’s inclusion in the complaint “is a reflection of their assessment that General Albayalde may be held criminally liable for the acts or omissions alleged in the complaint.”
“The DoJ will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of the old and new charges and will afford General Albayalde his right to due process,” Guevarra added.
Earlier charged by the CIDG were Maj. Rodney Baloyo 4th; Senior Insp. Joven Bognot Jr.; Senior Police Officers 1 Jules Maniago, Donald Roque, Ronaldo Santos, Rommel Vital, Alcindor Tinio and Eligio Valeroso; Police Officers 3 Dindo Dizon, Gilbert de Vera, Dante Dizon and Encarnacion Guerrero Jr.; and Police Officer 2 Anthony Lacsamana.
All police officers were members of the team that conducted a raid in Mexico, Pampanga when Albayalde was the province’s police chief. Reports said the lawmen seized 160 kilos during the operation, but only a small portion was turned over to the police.
Albayalde welcomed the filing of the complaint.
“At least I will be accorded due process now,” he told reporters in Camp Crame.
Albayalde stepped down as PNP chief last week. He is set to retire from the service in November.
Justice Undersecretary Mark Perete said Albayalde would undergo preliminary investigation.
“If there’s finding of probable cause, then makakasama siya (Albayalde) sa mga akusado (he will join the other accused) and it will go to the trial court,” Perete added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believes that the Senate investigation of the ninja cops yielded substantial evidence to support the filing of criminal case against Albayalde and his former men.
Drilon said he agreed with the joint report of the Senate blue ribbon committee and Committee on Justice recommending the filing of graft and drug charges against Albayalde.
Sen. Leila de Lima, on the other hand, said the Duterte administration “should now admit that it has miserably failed in stopping the scourge of illegal drugs in the country, and therefore, should make amends by holding these police drug protectors accountable for their crimes.”
“They should re-assess their approach and strategies in combating the scourge of illegal drugs,” the opposition senator added.
But Sen. Francis Tolentino on Monday said he has yet to read the report of the joint committees. He pointed out that the observations and recommendations made by the joint probe are not “100 percent conclusive.”
“We shall have to wait for the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) report, which is expected to come out anytime this week,” he added.
The Senate blue ribbon committee, headed by Sen. Richard Gordon, earlier released a preliminary report, saying the former police chief and his men violated provisions of anti-graft and anti-drug laws when they allegedly sold at least 160 kilograms of shabu (crystal meth) worth around P648 million seized in a raid in 2013.
Tolentino, a member of the blue ribbon and Justice committees, said whoever would be named as PNP chief should implement reforms.
“The incident happened in 2013, kaya hindi na dapat na maulit pa (This should not be repeated),” he told The Manila Times.
WITH BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO AND JAVIER JOE ISMAEL