Albayalde resigns as national police chief as ‘ninja cops’ issue reaches fever pitch

Outgoing Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde speaks to reporters after a Senate hearing earlier this month. <i>Photo: ABS-CBN News</i>
Outgoing Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde speaks to reporters after a Senate hearing earlier this month. Photo: ABS-CBN News

General Oscar Albayalde today announced his resignation as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as he continues to deny allegations that he protected his men from getting fired over a controversial 2013 anti-drug operation in Pampanga.

His departure came earlier than expected, given that last week he announced that he would be stepping down on Oct. 29, just 10 days before his official retirement.

“After careful thought and deliberation, I have come to the decision to relinquish my post as chief [of the] PNP effective today and go on non-duty status,” the embattled policeman told his subordinates during the weekly flag ceremony at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Read: Anti-drug chief accuses top cop of protecting allegedly corrupt Pampanga officers in 2013

In his announcement, he reiterated that he did not protect the officers, who were accused of selling hundreds of kilos of confiscated meth, back when he was Pampanga police chief. He maintained that those who have accused him of doing so — including former top investigator and current Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino — were doing so for “publicity.”

Albayalde’s resignation comes as the Senate investigates the contentious raid in Mexico, Pampanga, led by then-Superintendent Rodney Baloyo. Baloyo, along with 12 other cops, allegedly stole at least 100 kilos of meth from the crime scene, which were believed to have later been sold to drug dealers, GMA News reports. Albayalde was temporarily relieved of his duties in March 2014 over the questions surrounding the operation.

The case resurfaced last month when Baguio Mayor Magalong, during the Senate hearings covering the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance law, mentioned the 2013 raid — which he investigated before his retirement from the PNP — as an example of so-called “ninja cops,” who “recycle” seized drugs. Magalong testified almost two weeks ago that Aquino told him that Albayalde intervened on behalf of his men, a claim that Aquino initially denied, but later said was true.

Read: Duterte defends police chief accused of protecting dirty cops

Aquino, who was then the chief of Central Luzon police, said he received a call from Albayalde, who wanted to know more about Baloyo’s case. He said that Albayalde asked him not to dismiss the cops because they were Albayalde’s “people.”

To this day, the policemen involved in the raid remain on active duty, and Baloyo has been promoted to major, although the officers were demoted one rank and temporarily sent to Mindanao.

With Albayalde’s resignation, Lieutenant General Archie Francisco Gamboa will become the PNP’s officer in charge.

Despite his resignation, Albayalde may still face criminal charges, said Senator Richard Gordon, the lawmaker who led the Senate investigations into the “ninja cops” case.

“He [Albayalde] really needs a strong lawyer,” Gordon told CNN Philippines. “He should be sued for negligence, neglect of duty. He did not reprimand these men.”

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