EDITORIAL â Terminal leave

EDITORIAL – Terminal leave

(The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Gen. Oscar Albayalde bade an emotional goodbye to the Philippine National Police yesterday, three weeks ahead of his mandatory retirement. Albayalde, now effectively on terminal leave, told PNP personnel to “carry on” and not be demoralized as he ends his police service with controversy hounding him.

Albayalde has maintained his innocence amid accusations that he coddled “ninja cops” – police officers who pilfered and recycled shabu seized during anti-drug operations in Pampanga when he was provincial police commander. He has stressed that he was never charged for any wrongdoing even after three investigations related to the ninja operations.

Malacañang has said that unless probable cause is presented for any wrongdoing on the part of Albayalde, he would get the benefit of the doubt from President Duterte. The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the issue.

Albayalde has gone on “non-duty status” until his mandatory retirement on Nov. 8 when he turns 56. His immediate superior, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, said Albayalde wanted to spare the PNP from being dragged into his personal troubles.

He will get a chance to present his side in legal terms, and he could yet prove his accusers wrong. Amid the controversy, Malacañang has vowed to thoroughly vet the person who would be the next PNP chief. The organization and its current methods of law enforcement are controversial enough without its chief becoming dragged into a scandal.

Until this controversy erupted, Albayalde in fact was seen as an officer who had tempered the brutality of the war on drugs, and had moved to curb abuses of state authority in battling a complex scourge. He implemented programs to raise police awareness of human rights issues in the course of law enforcement. Such reform efforts are a work in progress, but they deserve to be sustained by the next PNP chief.

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