NATIONAL Police Commission vice-chairman Attorney Rogelio T. Casurao yesterday described as rehashed unproven charges that Philippine National Police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde protected his men who were investigated and charged in connection with a 2014 purported highly-irregular anti-narcotics operation in Pampanga.
Without being asked, Casurao shared the information specifically for Gen. Albayalde’s detractors that it was very clear that the PNP chief’s relief as Pampanga Police Provincial Office director in March 2014 was “purely administrative in nature.”
He aired his defense of the PNP chief in the presence of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Gen. Albayalde himself.
Año also said that the policemen allegedly involved in the supposed drug recycling should be named. “Sana sa ganyang pagkakataon sabihin natin ‘yung pangalan, specific, para the Philippine National Police will do the appropriate action,” he said.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino last week revealed that drug recycling is still rampant, saying that a suspected female drug lord was allegedly buying confiscated drugs from some rogue law enforcement authorities.
There were further speculations sparked by retired PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group head, General Benjamin B. Magalong, now the Baguio City mayor, who on questioning by Senator Richard Gordon made a gesture showing his four fingers when asked what was the rank of the highest official he mentioned in an executive session at the Senate.
Gen. Albayalde is the only 4-star general on the police force. He also said that he doesn’t know what prompted Casurao to defend him before the press.
What he knows, according to the PNP chief, is that the statements about him are “all recycled.”
“Baka uso din ang recycling sa perceptions. For the nth time, to set the records straight, to be fair to everyone, dapat sabihin (ang names), not make insinuations,” the PNP chief said.
According to Gen. Albayalde, the policemen named in the charges filed by the PNP-CIDG in 2014 were eventually absolved of the cases slapped on them after the criminal cases were dismissed by the court.
“Retiring na ako in weeks (Gen. Albayalde will be retiring this coming November 8), maybe this is part of something. It happened nearly six years ago, tapos lumalabas na 4-star ang involved eh ako lang naman ang 4-star sa PNP. Tinaya na naming ang buhay namin sa labang ito,” he said.
Gen. Albayalde maintained that the PDEA should have informed the police about those involved in the alleged drug recycling scheme. “Pilferage and recycling of drug evidence by members of law enforcement is certainly worse than the crime committed by drug traffickers and therefore should be treated differently,” Albayalde said.
On March 27, 2014, then Senior Superintendent Albayalde was relieved as Pampanga police director for command responsibility by then Police Regional Office 3 director, Chief Supt. Raul D. Petrasanta.
His relief was triggered by an alleged irregular anti-illegal drug operation by police officers in Mexico town. Petrasanta said then that Albayalde was relieved of his post under the doctrine of command responsibility for failing to take corrective action at his level despite being given the chance to do so.
The PRO3 filed charges before the provincial prosecutor’s office against Superintendent Rodney Raymund Baloyo, the relieved chief of the Pampanga Intelligence Branch; Senior Inspector Joven de Guzman Jr., former head of the Pampanga Anti-Illegal Drugs Operations Task Group (PAIDSOTG); and 11 of their personnel.
De Guzman and his 11 men were placed under preventive suspension for 90 days.
During an operation at the Woodbridge Subdivision in Mexico town, the Pampanga PAIDSOTG operatives allegedly confiscated P182 million worth of shabu and arrested a Chinese national, Ding Wenkun, 30, and Roel Luage Cabag.
However, according to an intelligence report, 10 armed men in civilian attire on board a Hyundai Sta. Fe and Nissan Urvan led by De Guzman stormed Wenkun’s house on Nov. 29, 2013. The group left after a few minutes, bringing with them two pieces of luggage and a vault but without Mr. Lee, the PRO3 leadership said then.
The Pampanga policemen came under fire after the PRO3 said that the items were not included in the list of seized evidence and that the certification of seized evidence was signed only the following day, in full violation of standard police operating procedures in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.
The charges against the accused policemen however were said to have been dismissed by the court.