Senate hearing today ‘explosive’ — Sotto

Vicente “Tito” Sotto  III

SENATE President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III yesterday confirmed that there will be new evidence and witnesses to be presented today at the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon and justice committees hearing on the ninja cops, GCTA and related issues.

“I don’t know if I’m at liberty to tell you but there is really something explosive again tomorrow,” said Sotto.

“Palagay ko new evidence, baka one or two witnesses pero new evidence for sure because I signed subpoenas last night. (It is about) the entire hullabaloo, from the GCTA (good conduct time allowance) law to the recycling, konektado na ‘yun e,” Sotto added.

He initially said that he signed nine subpoenas but later clarified that it is more than five.

“I’m not sure about the count baka nagkamali ako ng nine. Sa dami ng pinirmahan ko I’m not sure of the number but it is definitely more than five,” he further said.

Earlier Senator Richard Gordon said they will present new evidence when they resume their hearing.

“We got additional evidence. Magpapatawag kami ng hearing kung andyan pa ang mga senador. Meron kaming ilalabas na mga bago,” said Gordon.

“We are in possession of evidence already kasi may mga nagti-tip sa amin on certain evidence that must be presented para malaman natin talaga na may nangyaring ganun. ‘Yung lifestyle check napakaimportante,” he added.
Open to new complaints

The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) yesterday said it was open to accepting new administrative complaints against the so-called ninja cops who are now the subject of investigation in the Senate and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Ninja cops” is a police term for policemen engaged in recycling of illegal drugs they confiscate in raids or operations.

NAPOLCOM vice chairman and executive officer Atty. Rogelio Casurao said in an interview with radio DzMM, there will be no double jeopardy in an administrative case for as long as there will be new evidence presented against the 13 cops from Pampanga.

The DILG is conducting a probe into the policemen headed by Supt. Rodney Baloyo on orders of no less than President Duterte.

The Baloyo-led team allegedly made off with some 160 kilograms of shabu worth around P648 million following an operation on alleged Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.

It was bared during a Senate hearing that the Pampanga cops set Lee free and presented another Chinese in exchange of P50 million.         

The case happened six years ago when now PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde was still the provincial director of Pampanga.

“Kung halimbawa pong magdulog ng reklamo laban dito sa mga 13 police officers. . . Napolcom will be open to accepting a possible admin case na puwedeng isampa pa rito, kung mayroong mga mga bagong ebidensya na mailalahad,” Casurao said.

One-on-one meeting

Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Philippine National Police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday held a one-on-one meeting at the former’s office in Camp Crame as the DILG started investigating the ninja cops controversy.

“It was a closed-door meeting,” said a source when asked to comment on what happened yesterday inside the office of Secretary Año which is located at the ground floor of the PNP national headquarters.

The DILG chief earlier said he has started to conduct his own internal investigation into the 2013 anti-narcotics operation in Pampanga involving Superintendent Baloyo and 12 of  his men.

President Duterte had said he would let the Senate justice committee finish its investigation into the issue and wait for Secretary Año to complete his own internal probe before deciding on the fate of the beleaguered PNP chief.

Gen. Albayalde has denied all the charges against him.

Just being careful

President Rodrigo Duterte is meticulously reviewing his options as to who will replace outgoing police chief General Oscar Albayalde.

He said he is cautiously studying the choices for the next head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to avoid making the wrong choice.

“Not yet. ‘Yan ang mahirap. We have to — they call it vet. I have to consult everybody. Maya-maya madapa na naman tapos ako ang magkaroon ng problema,” he said when he arrived from Russia on October 6.

Albayalde’s retirement on November 8 is marred by his alleged involvement in the drug-recycling scheme. He was tagged in a so-called ninja cops scheme, where 13 members of the Pampanga police reportedly recycled illegal drugs seized during a buy-bust operation in 2013 when he was acting provincial police chief.

Despite the controversies, Duterte said he continues to trust Albayalde — proof is the fact that he has not been sacked.

Albayalde has yet to recommend his successor, but it has been said his endorsement to Duterte could be a “kiss of death” due to the ninja cops issue.

With Joel dela Torre, Alfred Dalizon, EMontano