Duterte defends Albayalde

October 07, 2019
Oscar D. Albayalde

Top cop presumed innocent until proven otherwise, says Commander-in-Chief.

EMBATTLED Philippine National Police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde got a boost from President Duterte who defended him over allegations he protected a group of so-called ninja cops which triggered calls for his resignation.

Speaking after arriving from Russia, the Chief Executive said that the country’s top policeman is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.  “Kung yung mga kriminal may presumption of innocence. You know, Albayalde is the PNP chief. Give me clear proof that he was there on the trafficking of drugs. Just because he was the, tapos may tinawagan sya, I could not just do it in knee jerk. I have to follow procedural due process and allow him to answer. It’s given to kidnappers, it should be given to him,” the President said.

He added that he simply cannot adopt the results of the Senate investigation into the alleged involvement of the group of Major Rodney Baloyo in illegal drug activities. Baloyo was the intelligence officer of Albayalde when he was still the Pampanga Police Provincial Office and was relieved from his post in the aftermath of an investigation into a highly-irregular anti-narcotics operation in the province in 2013.

“I cannot adopt the investigation of Congress as the work of the Executive Department. Kailangan ko na i-review yan, tapos kung tama lahat eh i-adopt ko,” President Duterte said as he ordered Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año to investigate Albayalde and the group of Baloyo in connection with the controversial anti-drug raid which was exposed by retired general now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong.

Respected former PNP chiefs have offered contrasting views on whether Gen. Albayalde should resign or not amid the controversial 2013 Pampanga raid which have hounded him weeks before his 56th birthday this coming November 8.

Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson of Philippine Military Academy ‘Matatag’ Class  who was PNP chief from 1999 to 2001, said no one can force Gen. Albayalde to resign since it should be the latter’s personal decision.

Former PNP chief

However, retired Gen. Arturo ‘Art’ C. Lomibao of Philippine Military Academy ‘Masigasig’ Class of 1972, a PNP chief from March 2004 to July 2006, said the best thing for Albayalde to do right now is to “resign and save the PNP.’

Gen. Albayalde had rejected calls for him to resign his post in the wake of the controversial ninja cops issue. He earlier speculated that linking him to the ninja cops case is meant to force him to resign or seek early retirement as head of the country’s police force.

Lomibao in a Facebook post recalled his connection with Magalong and Alabayalde.

“As a former PNP Chief, and a graduate of the same institution, the PMA, I can not help but be emotionally affected. I know Generals Benjie Magalong and Oca Albayalde from way back. Although Benjie graduated 10 yrs after me and Oca 14 yrs after, they were, shall I say “mga bata ko rin”, no derision meant,” Lomibao said.

The retired PNP chief said that he worked with Magalong when he was still assigned in the Cordillera region where they broke the backbone of the New People’s Army then under renegade priest Conrado Balweg.

When he was the PNP chief in 2006, he said that he confronted Magalong, then with the elite PNP Special Action Force regarding an alleged plot to assassinate him. I vividly recall him saying “sir, hindi ko magagawa sa iyo yan bata mo ako.”

Lomibao said he also remembers Albayalde coming to his farm and spending time with common friends on several occasions in Pampanga when he was already relieved as Central Luzon police director by then President Joseph Estrada. He said that his impression of Albayalde is that he is a “low-key but upright officer.”

“Thus, it pains me to see these 2 fine gentlemen pitted against each other. But there are higher interests to protect and rules to follow so it is unavoidable that  they face the music,” Lomibao said.

“My advice to Chief Oca (Pls don’t get me wrong). You are about to retire. You are now a part of history. Just like me, I’m sure you want to leave the PNP and be remembered as a CPNP with a reputation intact.
“You are known to be a strict disciplinarian. In fact that’s your comparative advantage, that’s why the President chose you to lead the force even if you are not close to him.  Retire with that service reputation, that  kind of brand because that will be your legacy.

“Be sensitive to public perception. I suggest that you reinvestigate the said case and leave no stone unturned this time. I’m  aware na bata mo si Major Baluyo and no one can fault you for that. Lahat naman tayo may bata nuon. But let’s be consistent, fair and truthful. Let’s not back them up, or protect our bata if they go against the law.

“And when you are finally done with your investigation and came out with the truth, it’s time to quit, even if it’s one day before retirement. Show everyone that you are willing to sacrifice for the institution you are about to leave, so that hopefully, this will give a clear signal to those you will leave behind. Learn from the PMA Superintendent. He sacrificed his position to save the PMA. Save the PNP,” advised Lomibao.