Stepping down
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

The PNP tried to deny it, but the rumors were indeed true. PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde has stepped down as of last Monday, a little over three weeks before his retirement. He is putting himself on off-duty status to give President Duterte a free hand in choosing the next top cop. He will still enjoy his retirement benefits since no charges have yet been leveled against him. Albayalde believes this is the best thing for the PNP, to spare it from further controversies surrounding the "ninja cops" issue. He has always claimed he was not involved in any irregularities in the said buy-bust operation in Mexico, Pampanga in 2013. But after three Senate hearings on the controversial operation, all the irregularities, lies, fabricated stories, evidence tampering and even presenting a different suspect were all exposed. Maj. Baloyo, the team leader, was befuddled by the Blue Ribbon Committee's questions not realizing how prepared they were. It is beyond me why his team of thirteen police officers was only demoted.

And it was here that Albayalde was drawn into the controversy. Based on the statements of two investigators into the said raid, Albayalde showed interest and concern for "his men", one claiming he was asking for the initial recommendation of dismissal not to be enforced while another investigator claiming Albayalde told him he "only got a little" from the operation supposedly insinuating that the investigation be dropped. The senators deemed Albayalde's calls to the investigators inappropriate. He should not have done so and instead, questioned his relief as Pampanga provincial director. Albayalde has not shown disdain for Maj. Baloyo and his men even in light of all that has been revealed. Even Sen. Dela Rosa said very little during the hearings, once again showing he has not fully shed his being a police officer. I wonder if he believes Baloyo's ridiculous statements.

During his speech at his final flag-raising ceremony as PNP chief, Albayalde urged the PNP to "continue serving the people and not be demoralized by the current challenges". Is that how Albayalde sees the buy-bust operation in Pampanga? A mere challenge and not an affront to the PNP as an institution? If PDEA director general Aaron Aquino and former CIDG chief Benjamin Magalong did not reveal what was happening at the time, would Baloyo's group have gone scot-free or ignored? Baloyo and his men served themselves and not the people.

Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa has been appointed OIC of the PNP. Immediately he has issued a directive forbidding all police officers from playing golf during weekdays, whether on-duty or not. Gamboa probably realizes the poor state of the PNP's image and is doing a "Yorme". The administration's war on drugs has even come into question. Many are even wondering how Albayalde got the top post with this questionable past. But this is what the Teflon-coated Duterte favored enjoy. No less than Presidential Spokesperson and Chief legal adviser Panelo seems to be speaking on behalf of Albayalde, some say to the point of lawyering knowing his stepping down does not automatically absolve him of wrongdoing. Sen. Richard Gordon said there is enough evidence to pin Albayalde. If the government will pursue a new case against Albayalde, Baloyo and the other officers involved in the operation remains to be seen. Their fate is now up to the gods. I'm not holding my breath.

OSCAR ALBAYALDE
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