Duterte defends police chief accused of protecting dirty cops

<I> PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde in undated file photo. Photo: ABS-CBN</I>
PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde in undated file photo. Photo: ABS-CBN

The national police chief has a right to be heard, President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday, as the former is beset with allegations he protected policemen accused of selling hundreds of kilos of confiscated meth.

As investigations ramp up into allegations that Gen. Oscar Albayalde stopped the dismissal of several officers suspected of selling a large quantity of speed seized from an anti-drug operation in 2013, Duterte said he must be given the same due process afforded to any suspect.

“I have to follow procedural due process and allow him time to answer, the right to be heard. It’s given to the criminals, to the kidnappers. It should be given to a general of the Philippine National Police because [because] under the laws, we’re all equal,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City yesterday upon his return from Russia.

“Give me clear proof that he was indeed there in the trafficking of drugs,” the president added.

Duterte said this as the Senate continues its investigation into the contentious raid in Pampanga led by then-Superintendent Rodney Baloyo six years ago. Baloyo, along with 11 other cops, stands accused of stealing at least 100 kilos of methamphetamine from a crime scene and then selling it to drug traders, GMA News reports.

The 13 have been dubbed “ninja cops” by the media. Baloyo was cited for contempt by the Senate last week and placed under arrest.

Albayalde — who was then Pampanga’s chief of police — was temporarily relieved his duties due to the questionable nature of the operation, according to ABS-CBN News.

During last week’s Senate hearings, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino said that, back when he was chief of Central Luzon police, he received a call from Albayalde urging him not to fire Baloyo and his men. Albayalde’s critics say he made the appeal because Baloyo and his team were under his command. After the call, Aquino ended up demoting the cops one rank and temporarily assigning them to Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Albayalde today urged the public to “move on” from the controversial issue.

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

Albayalde made the public appeal to drop the issue “now that the president has spoken” during a press briefing today in Calamba, Laguna.

He added that Aquino’s testimony was simply “accusations” and that “there has been no single proof whatsoever” that implicated the accused cops in the case. Aquino, meanwhile, said earlier that he has been receiving death threats and was worried for the safety of his family after he gave damning testimony against Albayalde in a Senate hearing.

On Sunday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced the case would be reopened “in light of new evidence unfolding and in the interest of justice.” 

Guevarra said both sides would be given enough time to present additional evidence before the case is resolved, hopefully in a month’s time.

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