In this September 2017 file photo, Albayalde lectures police officers in Caloocan City.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file
Filing case vs Albayalde up to prosecutors, Palace says
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - October 20, 2019 - 5:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the release of a Senate report that found Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde—former Philippine National Police chief on "non-duty" status—liable for graft over an anti-drug operation, Malacañang is not passing judgment on the country's former top cop, saying it would be up to prosecutors to decide whether to file charges against him.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte would not meddle in the investigation of the Senate and would act on the recommendation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which is also conducting its own probe.

"Regardless of the findings, they (prosecutors) are the ones who will make the recommendation. Whether or not cases will be filed and the nature of the case filed against them will be the discretion of prosecutors that will assess the evidence," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview Sunday.  

"Whether ... they are guilty or not, that would be up to the court, assuming it would pass the level of prosecutors," he added.

The Senate blue ribbon and justice committees have recommended the filing of charges against Albayalde and 13 police officers who used to be under his command for their alleged involvement in the resale of narcotics seized in a Pampanga raid six years ago. 

Speaking to reporters last Friday, Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon said Albayalde may be charged for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for calling two police officials to ask about the cases of his former subordinates who carried out the questioned anti-drug operation.

READ: PNP: All accused in ‘ninja cops’ controversy remain innocent until proven guilty

The police officers involved in the 2013 buy bust-operation declared that they had confiscated 36 kilograms of shabu but a subsequent investigation by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group found that 200 kilograms of illegal drugs were actually seized. The Senate committees said Albayalde "profited from the sale of shabu" and found his 13 former subordinates liable for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Palace: File cases vs Albayalde if you think he and his men did wrong

Panelo said those who think Albayalde and his former subordinates had committed wrongdoing are free to file cases against them. He said anyone who is into illegal drugs would be made accountable.

"If the president said they may be killed or 'I will kill you,' we know what he means. That means he will pursue to the ends of the earth those who are violators of the law and put them behind bars," Panelo said.

"If they have a case against them, they should file it. There will be hearings in the court if it passes the level of the investigators of the prosecution department," he added.

Panelo said the 'ninja cops' controversy would not derail the administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

"In fact, if it will affect the war, it will mean it is successful because those who are involved in questionable operations are charged and if the court issues a verdict, they may be imprisoned in Muntinlupa," he added, referring to where the New Bilibid Prison is located.

Panelo said the findings of the Senate committees would not discourage police officers from conducting operations.

"The president said as long as they are doing what is right, 'I will back you up. If you abuse your authority, there will be hell raised,'" he said.

OSCAR ALBAYALDE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE SALVADOR PANELO
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