PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s police chief allegedly tried to stop the dismissal of 13 rogue cops who recycled illegal drugs in an illicit business that leads all the way to the Philippines’ national jail and several regional police offices.
Police Chief General Oscar D. Albayalde had intervened in the dismissal of the cops from Pampanga in 2016, when he was still acting regional director for Metro Manila, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron N. Aquino told senators investigating corruption inside the country’s jails.
Mr. Aquino was a former regional director for central Luzon.
Mr. Aquino said Mr. Albayalde had asked him to review the cases of the 13 officers because they were his people.
Mr. Aquino narrated his phone conversation with Mr. Albayalde on the prodding of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who sat beside the PDEA chief during the hearing. Mr. Magalong, who first divulged the involvement of rogue cops in the illegal drug trade inside jails, was a director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at that time.
Mr. Albayalde confirmed the conversation but said he was only checking the status of the cases against the policemen who were set to be fired over a questionable anti-drug operation in 2013.
“I could not have possibly influenced a regional director or an upper class,” he told the Senate hearing. “I was only an acting regional director of the National Capital Region Police Office then.”
He said he had asked for an update of the case because relatives of the cops had also been asking him about their fate, being a provincial director of Pampanga when the buy-bust took place in 2013.
Mr. Magalong recounted that on Nov. 29, 2013 the Pampanga Provincial Police Office conducted a buy-bust operation, and reported seizing only 38 kilograms of drugs and the arrest Chinese drug trafficker Johnson Lee.
But further investigation showed the police had seized about 200 kilos of illegal drugs worth P648 million and about P10 billion in cash. Findings also showed Mr. Lee had paid P50 million for the police to present a different Chinese national in his place, Mr. Magalong said.
Mr. Magalong said he later filed a case against the cops in 2014. An order for their dismissal was never implemented, he said.
Senator Richard J. Gordon said the phone conversation gives the panel a reason to question Mr. Albayalde. “He was very very negligent, at the most he was extremely not looking at the ball,” he said.
“When something is under investigation, you don’t call somebody,” Mr. Gordon added. — Charmaine A. Tadalan