HE has successfully led the Philippine National Police’s war on drugs, crime and corruption over the past 17 months with a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey saying 82 percent of Filipinos acknowledge the PNP’s crackdown on illegal drug trafficking and police registering a significant reduction in the total crime volume since last year -- 57 percent in Metro Manila.
However, PNP chief General Oscar D. Albayalde is now being confronted with the controversial “ninja cops” issue prompting PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac to say it could be an “attempt” to tarnish Albayalde’s name.
“Even the chief of the PNP has denied all these insinuations and allegations against him, and he said these are issues in the past and it seems that they are coming out again, and these are maybe an attempt to tarnish his name,” Banac told an ANC interview.
“He (Albayalde) denied his involvement in all these and as far as he is concerned, he has acted upon these allegations in the past already, and no evidence has been found against him in the past,” said Banac, explaining the administrative relief of the PNP chief as Pampanga Police Provincial Office director in 2014 in the aftermath of a controversial drug case involving some of his men.
Albayalde maintained that the controversy is just a “recycled issue” that he has answered several times.
He said he is “unsure” why the issue was revived less than two months before his retirement, but he suspected it may be related to internal politics.
“I hope, sabi ko nga, this is not part of the internal politics of our organization. Kasi ito ang isa pang gusto naming matanggal sa PNP. Kayo kasi pino-float n’yo na exte-extension,” he told newsmen at Camp Crame.
The PNP chief is set to retire on November 8, his 56th birthday. It has been made public that the top three contenders to replace him are PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, PNP Chief Directorial Staff Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan and Gen. Albayalde’s protégé, National Capital Region Police Office director Major Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar.
Gamboa and Cascolan, both members of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinagtala” Class of 1986, will be retiring on September 2 and November 10, 2020, respectively, while Eleazar, of PMA “Hinirang” Class of 1987 will retire on November 13, 2021.
However, highly-reliable Journal Group sources say that not to be discounted in the race for the top PNP post are known “Davao Boys” from PMA “Sambisig: Class of 1991 -- Brigadier General Vicente D. Danao Jr., of the Manila Police District, and Filmore B. Escobal, of the Police Security and Protection Group. Both will retire in 2023.
Last Monday, National Police Commission vice chairman Atty. Rogelio T. Casurao came to the defense of the PNP chief although the Senate is yet to reveal the identities of active policemen who have been mentioned by former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong in an executive session.
“He was relieved administratively and those who were found criminally liable were charged in court. They were subjected to preliminary investigation less of course the name of General Albayalde. Because his relief was more administrative than anything else,” Casurao said.
Albayalde said 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, may be 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 namin buhay namin sa labang ito,” 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.