Albayalde opts for early exit

October 12, 2019
Oscar D. Albayalde

BELEAGUERED Philippine National Police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde is giving in to massive pressure from different quarters and will leave his office ahead of his 56th birthday this coming November 8.

Albayalde’s successor will be known during a joint PNP-Armed Forces command conference to be presided over by President Duterte at Malacañang Palace on Tuesday, the Journal Group learned. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año has been asked by the President to come up with a short list of the candidates.

As of yesterday: the race for the top PNP post is still a toss-up between newly-named PNP Deputy Chief for Administration Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, PNP Chief Directorial Staff Major Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar and Manila Police District director Brigadier Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr.

President Duterte’s closest ally, Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go said the Commander-in-Chief is making sure that the 23rd PNP chief—the 3rd under the current Duterte administration—will continue to carry out the reforms in the 195,000-strong police force which has been tasked to wage a no-nonsense war against drugs, criminality, terror and corruption.

Senator Go said that the turnover ceremonies at the PNP headquarters had been calendared for October 29, a Tuesday, in President Rodrigo Duterte’s schedule.

“Kasi pupunta siya sa ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit) sa first week (ng November). Naka-schedule siya pumunta ng Bangkok, Thailand so naka-schedule na rin ang turn-over ng PNP,” the neophyte lawmaker said.

Gen. Albayalde said he was okay with the date of the turnover rites. “It’s because of the ASEAN Summit. It’s no problem. Okay na ‘yun. Kung matutuloy ‘yun, I think the President prefers to have the turnover before he leaves. Okay naman ‘yun,” said Albayalde who added he would already be on a vacation with his family after the October 29 ceremonies.

The PNP chief denied he had resigned however. “Walang resignation na ganon. According to him, I’ll finish my term. Ang sabi naman niya I’ll be made to finish my term,” Albayalde said in referring to his conversation with Secretary Año early this week.

He also said he would be leaving his fate to the President when asked to comment on his decision to take advantage of early retirement in the wake of the controversial 2013 Pampanga anti-narcotics operations which has hounded him and 13 of his men led by demoted Major Rodney Baloyo.

Senator Go said the President’s decision on whether or not the PNP chief would be fired or made to retire early would be known in the coming days.

“Sa Tuesday pa ang most probable meeting nila. Merong command conference sa Tuesday sa Malacanang. Du’n n’yo malalaman kung siya pa rin,” he said.

Hours before he bared his decision to retire early, Gen. Albayalde was still in a fighting mood as he had a meeting with former Justice Secretary and Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, a top-notch lawyer and his cabalen to prepare the charges he would be filing against the retired generals whom he said have given “false and baseless testimonies” against him during the past two Senate inquiries.

Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson, a former PNP chief said Albayalde has the right to file complaints against former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director-turned Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong and former Police Regional Office 3 director, now retired Brig. Gen. Rudy G. Lacadin, the officials who accused him of involvement in the anomalous drug operation that led to the loss of almost 200 kilos of confiscated shabu in 2013.

Lacson, however, warned Albayalde that doing so would be “a double-edged sword.” “He is within his rights to defend himself if he believes he has a case against those who testified in the Senate hearing. It may be a double-edged sword though since those retired generals will not take it sitting down and will  defend themselves vigorously,” he explained.

Last Thursday, the PNP chief said that Lacadin—the man who claimed that he told him that he got only a small portion of the controversial buy bust operation, has a lot of explaining to do and will have his day in court.

He also claimed that all the retired police generals ganging up on him have ill motives against him “and obviously all worked with the previous administration.”

However, Magalong is known to have earned the ire of former President Benigno Aquino III when at the end of the investigation into the infamous Mamasapano massacre he concluded that the former president should be charged over the incident.