Sotto said senators will likely sign unanimously the committee report of the joint Senate Blue Ribbon committee and committee on justice and human rights regarding the operations of the ninja cops. He said he has already read a copy of the report, which was sent to him through email.
Geremy Pintolo/File
Sotto urges AMLC to probe Albayalde, ‘ninja’ cops
Cecille Suerte Felipe, Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III urged the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate the bank accounts of former Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde and the so-called “ninja cops” or policemen who sold seized illegal drugs.

Sotto said senators will likely sign unanimously the committee report of the joint Senate Blue Ribbon committee and committee on justice and human rights regarding the operations of the ninja cops. He said he has already read a copy of the report, which was sent to him through email.

After considering the “totality” of testimonies of witnesses and circumstantial evidence in its inquiry, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has recommended the filing of drug and graft charges against Albayalde and 13 of his former subordinates, in connection with the drug raid in Mexico, Pampanga in 2013, where a bulk of the nearly P1 billion worth of seized shabu was pilfered. The raiding team allegedly arrested drug dealer Johnson Lee but he was reportedly released after the suspect paid the policemen P50 million.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, presented yesterday the draft report on its inquiry into the ninja cops, a copy of which was sent to President Duterte.

Sotto said even Sen. Ronald Bato dela Rosa, a mistah or classmate of Albayalde at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1986, would likely sign the report since it merely detailed the committee hearings.

In justifying the recommendation of the filing of charges, Sotto said Albayalde failed to contradict with facts the allegations against him.

Sotto said the committee report will be tackled when the Senate resumes session on Nov. 4.

When asked if Albayalde, who is set to retire on Nov. 8 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56, would be able to receive his retirement benefits, Sotto said the matter will be discussed upon the resumption of the session.

The committee report said the existing system of discipline in the PNP failed and allowed ninja cops to continue their modus operandi of recycling illegal drugs seized in police operations.

“There is no clear report as to where the more substantial shabu and monies seized from Johnson Lee’s house went. Those involved in the Pampanga ‘huli-dap’ were ‘exiled’ and, under Albayalde’s watch, rehabilitated and brought back to Luzon. Because no serious efforts to cleanse PNP’s ranks had been made,” the report added.

The 46-page preliminary report has yet to be signed by other members of the committee but Senate President Vicente Sotto III – who is in Serbia for the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference with 10 other senators – indicated to Gordon that they will sign the document after receiving copies of it via email.

Sotto vowed to prioritize the discussion about the matter when Senate resumes sessions on Nov. 4.

The committee is also recommending the effort to strengthen the Internal Affairs Service (IAS), which should be made a truly independent institution, not within the PNP. 

The committee report also included the P10-million fine that Albayalde and the 13 ninja cops should pay once they are convicted.

Gordon’s committee report said upon the committees’ investigation, “we found out that the following people may be guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance, which may be subjected to criminal and/or civil charges.”

“The penalty is life imprisonment to death, a fine ranging from P500,000 P10 million and in addition the absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office,” the committee report read.

The PNP is now distancing itself from the controversy surrounding Albayalde and 13 other cops following the recommendation from the Senate that they be held liable for the 2013 controversial anti-illegal drug raid. 
PNP spokesman Brig Gen Bernard Banac said that it will let due process take its course.

“We leave it to Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde and other concerned PNP personnel, with their respective legal teams, to address the other side issues that may come with their possible criminal indictment as recommended by the Senate panel,” Banac said in a statement. 

Still, Banac said that they see the accused as innocent until proven guilty and will just observe justice and fairness in the proceedings. 

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