DOJ vows to conduct ‘fair, thorough’ probe on raps vs Albayalde

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2019   •   157

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde (EPA-EFE / ROLEX DELA PENA)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday vowed to be fair and thorough in its investigation on charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde.

Earlier in the day, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) filed an amendment to its original complaint to include Albayalde as a respondent in criminal raps against 13 cops involved in the controversial 2013 operation in Mexico, Pampanga.

The amended complaint filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) has added a case for violation of Section 92 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, graft, qualified bribery, falsification of public documents and dereliction of duty.

Albayalde, who was then the head of Pampanga provincial police, is the 14th respondent in the complaint against the team of police officers led by Major Rodney Baloyo who were accused of planting evidence and recycling of illegal drugs confiscated from an operation in Mexico, Pampanga.

“The inclusion of General Albayalde in the amended complaint affidavit filed by the PNP-CIDG before the DOJ today is a reflection of their assessment that general Albayalde may be held criminally liable for the acts or omissions alleged in the complaint,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a statement.

“For its part, the DOJ will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of the old and new charges and will afford general Albayalde his right to due process,” he added.

Albayalde welcomed his inclusion in the complaint, saying this will accord him due process.

The original charges against the 13 policemen were dismissed but the DOJ reopened the investigation after a Senate panel recommended in its report the filing of raps against Albayalde and 13 cops in line with the ‘ninja cops’ issue.

Albayalde last week relinquished his post as PNP chief amid the controversy and went on a non-duty status weeks before his supposed retirement on November 8.

DOJ denies conflict of interest in review of water concession deals

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday denied allegations of conflict of interest in the ongoing review of the water concession deal between the government of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The allegations surfaced following news reports that Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar was part of the team that reviewed the water supply agreements.

Aglipay-Villar is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose family owns the Prime Water Infrastructure Corporation, one of the utility firms that may possibly become a player to replace Maynilad and Manila Water when their contract ends in 2022.

Guevarra said he does not know where these kinds of allegations came from. He also said that he led the review of water deals.

“Siyempre as SOJ, ako ang head ng review team at ginagamit ko diyan, nag-assist ng review, naturally legal staff ng DOJ. Sa office ng state counsel so sila ang nag-review niyan with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. So, yung units na yun, nagkataon lang under the supervision ni Usec. Emmeline Villar kasi may mga distribution ng work ng ng mga usecs ng DOJ,” he told reporters in an event in Manila Thursday morning.

Guevarra said the DOJ team found onerous provisions in the contracts signed in 1997 and recommended its removal as well as the crafting of new deal that would be advantageous to the public.

“Believe me when I say that any good lawyer will see the inequitable provisions in the water concession agreements, and the fact the Usec. Emmeline Villar is part of the DOJ review team is totally irrelevant,” he said.

Aglipay-Villar, a former congresswoman, also denied the allegations, adding that the DOJ conducted a disinterested review of the concession agreements.  – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Revised water concession deal out before year-end – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said it is now forming an inter-agency team which is tasked to come up with a revised version of water concession agreement before the end of the year.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the composite team is comprised of lawyers from various government agencies, including the DOJ, Department of Finance, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General.

“We are still forming our team. We will come up with a government version of the concession agreement. So, we’ll hopefully come up with a revised version of the water concession agreement that does not include the onerous and what is considered illegal provisions,” Guevarra said.

“Hopefully, before the year is over, we can have one,” he added.

The DOJ chief said the panel will thoroughly review the provisions stated in the water supply deals with Manila Water and Maynilad, and revise those that are disadvantageous to the public.

“We are just trying to remove the provisions which should be removed because these are not favorable to the people, to the consuming public,” he said.

“We’ll do it within the government first. Once we are ready with our version of what a good water concession agreement should be, that’s the time we will sit down with the water concessionaires,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

The Palace earlier insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Guevarra said the government may opt to take over if private water firms will stop distributing water in Metro Manila due to the problem. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

No PNP Chief yet? Duterte threatens to take over

Marje Pelayo   •   November 29, 2019

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and former National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde (R) during the 117th Philippine National Police (PNP) police service anniversary in Quezon city, Philippines, 08 August 2018. EPA-EFE/STR

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has not decided yet as to who will assume the position vacated by former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, retired General Oscar Albayalde.

The President said he is carefully assessing the credentials of potential candidates to head the country’s main law enforcement arm.

Without an honest, corruption-free man to assume the job, the Chief Executive hinted on taking over the PNP.

“Ang akin, (for me) if they have even a single case of corruption, wala na, (it’s a no), you’re out,” the President warned.

“I would rather not appoint anybody for that matter. Ako na ang hahawak noon (I will take over). I will be the one directing the guidance and direction,” he added.

The President previously said he wants to be conscientious in choosing the next chief of the national police following controversies that tainted the credibility of Albayalde in relation to his alleged involvement with the so-called ninja cops or drug recycling issue that compelled him to resign.

President Duterte acknowledged, meanwhile, that there are a lot of things within the PNP that needs improvement and overhaul.

“But verily itong pulis maraming problema, pati generals nila kasali sa droga (Verily I say these policemen are the problems themselves, even their generals are involved in drugs),” the Chief Executive noted.

“Iyan ang ayaw ko diyan, pati generals. Hindi lumabas iyan hanggang hindi ako naging president (That’s what I hate, that even the generals [are involved]. Not until I became president that this was exposed),” he added. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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