Photo shows retired police general Rudy Lacadin telling a Senate panel how PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde called him up regarding the case of the so-called ‘ninja cops’ in 2013. Former PNP chief Alan Purisima also attended the hearing.
Geremy Pintolo
Another general pins Albayalde on ninja cops
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Another phone call made by then Pampanga provincial police chief Oscar Albayalde to a superior sometime in 2014 came back yesterday to haunt him at the Senate Blue Ribbon committee inquiry into the issue of “ninja cops,” or police officers involved in recycling illegal drugs.

Retired police general Rudy Lacadin testified that he conducted a discreet investigation into the raid by Pampanga policemen on a house in a subdivision in Mexico town on Nov. 29, 2013 where the raiders allegedly kept for themselves cash, vehicles and over 160 kilos of shabu with a street value at the time of over P650 million.

Lacadin testified that Albayalde called him up to ask about the probe. Albayalde made a remark indicating that he might have received a share of dirty money from the raid, Lacadin alleged.

Albayalde, the second Philippine National Police (PNP) chief of President Duterte, vehemently denied Lacadin’s story.

Lacadin was then PNP deputy chief of operations of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. He was tasked by his immediate superior at the time, director Benjamin Magalong, to make initial and discreet probe into the questioned raid.

Albayalde, at the time a senior superintendent, was relieved from his post in March 2014 to pave the way for the investigation, ordered by then PNP chief Alan Purisima, who wanted to verify reports that 13 police officers involved in the raid, led by then Col. Rodney Baloyo IV, pilfered drugs and displayed signs of unexplained wealth after the incident.

Lacadin said he could not recall the exact date of the call but it was shortly before the start of Magalong’s formal internal investigation of the operation. Albayalde reportedly said that he heard they were being probed.

“Yes, Oca (Albayalde’s nickname) I cannot inform you (of the details) but if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” the retired police official recalled telling him.

Lacadin told the committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, that he remembered Albayalde remarking: “Actually sir, konti lang naman ang napunta sa akin (only little went to me).”

Lacadin admitted it remains unclear to him up to yesterday whether the now PNP chief was joking, but did not ask him to elaborate on his remark.

He said it pains him to raise questions on the integrity of Albayalde, who was once a business partner, and whom he also considers a friend.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, asked Lacadin about what he thought about the context of Albayalde’s remarks.

“If you’ve any doubts, like it was said in a different context – I just want to know,” Lacson said.

Lacadin said he would not know whether Albayalde said it in jest.

Lacadin’s testimony was prompted by the request of Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, during the hearing for him to tell the panel about the phone call.

Magalong first mentioned Albayalde’s name in the ninja cops scandal to senators in a closed-door meeting last month in the course of the committee’s inquiry into corruption at the Bureau of Corrections.

Albayalde, shaking his head, strongly denied Lacadin’s statements, saying there appeared to be a conspiracy against him that he could not understand.

“I really don’t know what the conspiracy here is. It seems everybody is ganging up on me,” Albayalde said.

He added that it was very unlikely he would call up Lacadin, whom he said was not as close to him as the retired official wanted to portray him to be.

The supposed phone call was the second of two calls Albayalde made to PNP generals as disclosed so far in the inquiry that put him at the center of the controversy.

In previous hearings, it was learned that he called up then PNP Region 3 chief Aaron Aquino in the latter part of 2016 inquiring about the status of the cases against Baloyo and the rest, and asked him not to implement the dismissal order.

At that time, Albayalde was already chief of the National Capital Region Police Office. Aquino is now head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Albayalde recently remarked that the public should move on from the ninja cops controversy, saying President Duterte has already spoken on the issue.

Not yet over

But as far as Malacañang is concerned, there is no moving on since the issue is not yet over.

“As far as Malacañang is concerned, there is an ongoing investigation as instructed by the President,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“It’s not yet over because there is no recommendation yet,” he added.?Duterte previously said Albayalde has the right to answer accusations that he tried to protect his former subordinates tagged in the alleged reselling of narcotics in Pampanga six years ago.

The President also ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to conduct an investigation on the ninja cops issue after the Senate completes its probe.?“He (Duterte) will wait for the recommendation of the DILG secretary relative to the investigation,” Panelo said. ?Albayalde has questioned the motivation of former police officials linking him to illegal drugs, saying his accusers had the authority to stop the recycling of illegal drugs when they were in the service.

The beleaguered national police chief has also claimed there is no concrete proof that would prove that he was into the narcotics trade.?In fact, he was even recommended for recognition for the supposed “successful” anti-illegal drug operations in Pampanga in 2013.

Albayalde said it is a common practice in the police organization to improve the police reports for the purposes of getting recognition from the PNP leadership. He also said some policemen, even if they are not part of the operations, are even included for the sake of recognition.

Albayalde was put in the hot seat after it was learned that his subordinates led by Baloyo were demoted a rank, instead of following the original recommendation that they should be dismissed from the police service following the controversial Pampanga drug raid.

Hidden hand

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Lacson noted while Baloyo and his men were ordered dismissed in November 2014, the same was only served sometime in March 2016.

The delay in the serving of the order, as well as the downgrading of the penalty to demotion and the recall of Baloyo and the other officers from Mindanao, appeared to be orchestrated by a “hidden hand,” Drilon said.

Also testifying at the hearing yesterday was Police Brig. Gen. Graciano Mijares, who claimed Aquino sat on the dismissal order of Baloyo and his men after receiving the call from Albayalde.

It was Magalong who volunteered Mijares to the panel as the latter said he was privy to what happened to Aquino after that phone call.

Magalong said Mijares, a former subordinate of Aquino, approached him during a recent social gathering and recounted what he knew transpired after the call.

Mijares told the inquiry his former boss was in a “quandary” whether to heed Albayalde, who belongs to the “ruling” Philippine Military Academy class of 1986 and was rumored to be heading to the top PNP post, while Aquino was already retiring.

Aquino, however, denied being influenced by Albayalde, saying: “I was not in a quandary, sir.”

He said he was focused on the war on drugs at that time, and he was not familiar with the case so he asked that it be reviewed.

Aquino also said he sent Baloyo and his men to Mindanao shortly after the call.

Albayalde said it would be unthinkable for him to order a “cavalier” (upperclassman) of the PMA.

Magalong, however, countered that the PNP chief was again lying to the committee.

“He did not do anything except deny that he knew about what happened (in the raid). It’s really all denials,” Magalong said.

“Someone here is lying and I’m pretty sure it’s not General Lacadin, it’s not me, it’s not the other officers but someone else. It’s him,” he said, pointing to Albayalde.

Sen. Christopher Go noted the emergence of senior police officers revealing what they know of the ninja cop issue.

Go called on the other police officers who know about the issue to come out and testify.

“We encourage all whistle-blowers. Come out and speak out if you want to help the country. Speak the truth 100 percent, no more no less,” Go said. Cecille Suerte Felipe

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