In an interview with radio station dzMM, Año yesterday said it would be difficult or even impossible for Albayalde to perform his tasks considering the unresolved issues against him as well as the ongoing investigations of his alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
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PNP chief’s move lauded, but probe to continue
Artemio Dumlao, Alexis Romero, Edith Regalado, Paolo Romero, Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año lauded the decision of Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde to step down, saying it was a “selfless act” that spared President Duterte and the PNP from a public backlash.

In an interview with radio station dzMM, Año yesterday said it would be difficult or even impossible for Albayalde to perform his tasks considering the unresolved issues against him as well as the ongoing investigations of his alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

The Senate, for one, has vowed to continue its probe on his alleged links to the so-called “ninja cops,” who were his men when he was still Pampanga police director.

“It’s becoming difficult for him as PNP chief with all these allegations – and the Senate hearings continue. He can no longer concentrate on his job, he realized what is good for the organization and he wanted to spare the President and the organization from all these controversies,” Año said.

He said Albayalde formally submitted on Sunday a letter of intent to go on non-duty status. President Duterte, he said, promptly accepted it.

But Sen. Christopher Go said it was Duterte himself who directed Albayalde – through Año – to go on terminal leave.

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said he was not sure if Albayalde quit his post on Duterte’s orders.

“I did not hear anything about that. I can’t read his mind. I can only speculate that maybe he had enough of, according to him, false, unfair accusations and innuendos, especially because his family is suffering,” he said.

He called allegations against Albayalde, “hearsay.”

Albayalde’s exit from the PNP, however, will not stop the Senate from pursuing its probe on his alleged drug links.

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee may endorse the filing of criminal charges against the former police chief, including for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said it would be a “national disappointment” if Malacañang does not act on the recommendation of the panel.

Gordon said the committee is now finalizing its report that he hoped would be given due attention by the President as well as by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“He (Albayalde)’s definitely not off the hook,” Gordon told reporters. “Retirement does not get him off the hook. There’s really a surfeit of evidence (against him).”

He said among the possible charges that the committee may recommend against Albayalde and his former subordinates in Pampanga are neglect of duty, graft and corruption and even violation of Sec. 27 of the Dangerous Drugs Act that deals with the accountability of an officer of the law on handling seized illegal drugs.

He said the committee still continues to receive information on the controversial raid in 2013 where 13 former subordinates of Albayalde allegedly carted away and later sold over 160 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu from a suspected drug lord in Pampanga. The drug haul reportedly had a street value of over P650 million.

He said the panel is awaiting information on where the vehicles of the suspect, identified as Johnson Lee, had gone to validate reports that the police officers also took these for themselves or sold them.

“So those (charges) could be qualified (with them) being police officers, so they could face multiple life sentences,” Gordon said.

He said there are many indications that could point to Albayalde’s culpability and even complicity, like when he did not protest his relief following an internal probe on the raid; his inaction on the dismissal orders against his men that could be a cover-up and his controversial phone calls to superiors in 2014 and 2016.

He said he believes that at the very least, Albayalde knew of his men’s serious wrongdoing “after the fact.”

“He (Albayalde) got tempted too,” he said.

Gordon said he will try to have members of the panel sign the report and seek the permission of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to announce its details to the public. The report needs the signatures of 16 senators for it to be referred to the plenary.

He invited the DOJ to get a copy, which can be used for the filing of charges as it also includes sworn statements made by witnesses in the course of the inquiry.

The senator said he can provide a copy of the report directly to Duterte. “It’s on him (Duterte). He can order the DOJ to investigate,” he said.

OSCAR ALBAYALDE
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