PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte backtracked from a previous claim that two generals are involved in the illegal drug trade, explaining he was confused by the new ranking system for policemen.
“Walang generals doon. Medyo dalawang ano… sa aking report na dumating sa akin wala. Pero colonel, I think,” Duterte said Sunday upon landing in Davao City from his five-day official visit to Russia.
Duterte’s statement came just two days after he announced before other world leaders, Russian officials and academics that two generals “are still playing with drugs.”
The President said he was confused with the old ranking of policemen, which includes the ranks of Superintendent and Senior Superintendent.
“Nalilito kasi ako diyan sa [I am confused with that] superintendent, superintendent na ‘yan,” Duterte said, quipping that the superintendents that he knows of are school officials.
A law that Duterte signed in February restored the old ranking system of policemen. For example, Police Superintendents are now called Police Lieutenant Colonels, while Police Senior Superintendents are now called Police Colonels.
In a speech before the Filipino community in Russia, Duterte said he will go after alleged ninja cops when he returns home.
However, upon returning, Duterte still maintained a hands-off approach to the issue, repeating that he wants Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to conduct his own probe.
“I cannot adopt the work of Congress as the work of the executive department,” Duterte said, adding that he still has to review the results of congressional probes.
The President, however, was quick to pass judgment on PMAJ Rodney Baloyo — the leader of the controversial 2013 drug sting in Mexico, Pampanga where 13 policemen were demoted by one rank after they allegedly kept 160 kilograms of shabu for themselves, got 50 million and new SUVs in exchange for the freedom of alleged Chinese drug trafficker Johnson Lee.
“That is his problem, not mine,” Duterte said on Baloyo’s detention at the New Bilibid Prison upon the orders of the Senate.
“Mabuti nga buhay pa siya. [He’s lucky he’s still alive.]”
The irregular drug raid happened when Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde was still Pampanga police chief. The incident led to his administrative relief, but he was cleared of involvement.
It also originally led to the dismissal of the 13 policemen, but the penalty was converted to a one-rank demotion, due to a technicality, after appealing.
The Senate probe has also revealed that Albayalde called then Central Luzon police chief Aaron Aquino and asked him not to sack the 13 cops.
Senators questioned the propriety of the call, with some urging Albayalde to step down ahead of his retirement around a month from now.
But Duterte said the top cop still has his trust and confidence. “He’s still there, otherwise I would have told him, ‘Just go out,’” he said.