Palace backs lifestyle check amid 'ninja cops' controversy
In this Oct. 3, 2019 file photo, Police Maj. Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV talks to blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon as Senate officers prepare to escort him out of the session hall after being cited in contempt.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, file

Palace backs lifestyle check amid 'ninja cops' controversy

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - October 7, 2019 - 9:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday expressed support for the conduct of lifestyle checks on police officials following the "ninja cop" controversy that critics said could tarnish the credibility of the administration's war on illegal drugs.

The Philippine National Police is under scrutiny after some law enforcers were accused of selling illegal drugs seized during raids.

The controversy intensified after Police Gen. Albayalde, PNP chief, was accused of trying to stop the implementation of a 2014 dismissal order against his former subordinates who were involved in a questioned buy-bust operation in Pampanga.  

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the "ninja cops" issue, has proposed the conduct of lifestyle checks on Albayalde and the police officers involved in the Pampanga raid.

"That's a very good idea. There should be lifestyle check internally among PNP (Philippine National Police), and for that matter all heads of departments should conduct that on their own," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing.

"It will help because—if you can see that there are people there who are not supposed to be having this kind of wealth, then there's really a problem," he added.

He said a lifestyle check would not affect the administration's crackdown against illegal drugs, the centerpiece policy of the Duterte administration.
"It would be better if the ills of an organization are exposed right?  It would be better if we see someone exposing these problems instead of people conniving to keep them secret," the presidential spokesman said.

Not yet off the hook?

While President Rodrigo Duterte clarified that no generals were involved in the narcotics trade, his next move would still depend on the findings of the probe to be conducted by the Interior department, Panelo said.  
"You know, my statement was very clear. I said, ‘unless the President says otherwise, the reasonable presumption is that he enjoys the confidence of the president.’ And that is what the president said yesterday when he was asked about whether he still has the confidence of the PNP chief. He said that he is still there, which is obvious, if you are still there, that means I still trust you," he told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Asked if Albayalde is already off the hook, Panelo replied: "I think we will have to wait for the recommendation of the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) secretary, as he said yesterday."

Panelo said former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong had criticized him for saying that Albayalde still enjoys the president's trust.

Magalong previously quoted Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino as saying that Albayalde had asked him to stop the implementation of the dismissal order against his former subordinates who carried out the Pampanga drug operation.

"Perhaps if Mayor Magalong Is listening, I think he should be satisfied by now, because I understand when I was out of the country, he was criticizing me for saying that the PNP chief still enjoys the confidence of the President. According to him, I should not be releasing a statement without the go signal of the president," Panelo said.

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