Albayalde’s woes deepen

CIDG tags him 14th respondent in drug resale

The Philippine National Police has asked the Justice department to include retired police chief Oscar Albayalde as a respondent in its reinvestigation of criminal charges filed earlier against 13 policemen accused of recycling illegal drugs seized in a 2013 raid in Mexico, Pampanga.

Albayalde’s woes deepen
SWORN STATEMENTS. Prosecutors look at the affidavits submitted by the lawyers of 14 alleged ‘ninja cops’ during a preliminary hearing Monday at the Department of Justice. Norman Cruz
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In its amended complaint, the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group accused Albayalde of misappropriating confiscated drugs in violation of the Dangerous Drugs Law, graft, falsifying public documents, and failing to prosecute a team of Pampanga policemen implicated in the alleged drug recycling.

Albayalde’s inclusion as a respondent came after two Senate committees recommended that he be charged in connection with the operation involving his men when he was Pampanga police chief in 2013.

The former PNP chief is the 14th respondent in the complaint that originally sought the prosecution of 13 police officers who allegedly failed to declare the entire quantity of the drugs they seized in the Nov. 29, 2013 operation in Mexico, Pampanga, and let arrested suspected Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee go, allegedly in exchange for P55 million and an SUV.

The prosecutors dismissed the original CIDG complaint, but Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra recently ordered a reinvestigation following a Senate investigation that exposed the alleged irregularities.

Guevarra said Albayalde’s inclusion was a reflection of the CIDG’s assessment that the resigned PNP chief could be held criminally liable “for acts or omissions” alleged in the complaint.

READ: PNP chief gives up post

He said his department would conduct a fair and thorough investigation of the old and new charges and would afford Albayalde his right to due process.

The CIDG cited testimony before recent Senate hearings, which they said “established the respondents’ grand cover-up and the non-declaration of the true quantity of the illegal drugs seized, moneys, and other items seized during the said operation.”

The CIDG alleged that Albayalde attempted to influence Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief and former Central Luzon police chief Aaron Aquino against implementing administrative charges against the 13 policemen.

It also accused Albayalde of calling former CIDG deputy director for operations Rudy Lacadin to influence him in the CIDG’s validation process.

“Lastly, when General Albayalde was the Provincial Director of Pampanga Police Provincial Office, he failed to initiate an investigation over the said incident when its irregularities started to unfold,” the CIDG complaint said.

The CIDG also added charges against Police Maj. Rodney Raymundo Louie Baloyo IV and 12 other policemen on top of the existing complaint for misappropriation of seized drugs, planting of evidence and violating regulations by the Dangerous Drugs Board.

The amended complaint also charged the so-called ninja cops of delaying and bungling the prosecution of drug cases, graft, and qualified bribery.

Baloyo faces two counts of violation of the Revised Penal Code for falsifying reports in connection with the operation; and officers Joven Bognot de Guzman Jr., Ronald Santos, and Romeo Guerrero Jr. for false testimony and perjury.

Albayalde, who was set to retire on Nov. 8, abruptly resigned Oct. 14 following the controversy generated by the Senate inquiry on the ninja cops.

PNP OIC Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa on Monday ordered the dismissal of six policemen—three of them ninja cops from Pampanga—for shaking down and robbing a drug suspect in Antipolo City on May 4, 2019.

The three ninja cops were Msgt. Donald Roque, Msgt. Rommel Vital, and Cpl. Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero, all lieutenants of Albayalde when he was provincial director of Pampanga.

The team leader, Lt. Joven de Guzman, was suspended for 59 days and has been remanded to the Internal Affairs Service for an in-depth review of his alleged complicity.

Senator Richard Gordon, who headed the Senate investigations, said Monday the freed drug lord Lee had reentered the country using another passport.

READ: Gordon: Senate report on Albayalde, ninja cops on hold

He added that testimony before his committees pointed to “a single conclusion” that Albayalde was part of the anomalous drug bust and its subsequent coverup.

“The acts and omissions of Albayalde, all taken together, militate against his innocence,” Gordon said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he agreed with the report recommending graft and drug charges against Albayalde and the ninja cops, noting that the Senate investigation yielded substantial evidence to support at least a probable cause or prima facie case.

Gordon also rejected Albayalde’s claim that he knew of the raid on Lee’s house in Lakeshore, Mexico, Pampanga, only on the day it was carried out.

Gordon said Albayalde knew about it as early as Nov. 23, based on a memo he issued.

In all the time allegations were made against him, Albayalde could only say that politics was behind everybody ganging up on him.

Not once did Albayalde offer anything of substance to bolster his defense, Gordon added.

He said the proper time for the former PNP chief to defend himself was the very first time the case was investigated.

The Palace on Monday said it will let the law take its course.

“If they feel that they have a case against anyone then they can file it and let law takes its course,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in a press briefing. With MJ Blancaflor

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Topics: Philippine National Police , Department of Justice , Oscar Albayalde , Dangerous Drugs Law
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