Duterte on ‘ninja cops’ case linking Albayalde: ‘Give me clear proof’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 7, 2019   •   260

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech upon his arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on October 6, 2019 following his successful official visit to the Russian Federation. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday stressed the importance of following the due process in the ‘ninja cops’ issue, which allegedly involves several policemen, including the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), General Oscar Albayalde.

Duterte made the statement amid calls for Albayalde to resign over his purported link to illegal drugs.

Eh kung mga ‘yung criminal binibigyan mo ng (Even criminals are given) presumption of innocence. You know, Albayalde is the PNP chief. Give me a clear proof that he was there on the take or was in the trafficking of drugs. Just because he was the… Tapos may tinawagan siya (he called someone),” he said after his arrival from Russia.

“I could not just do it in a knee jerk. I have to follow procedural due process and allow him time to answer,” he added. “The right to be heard – it’s given to criminals, to kidnappers. It should be given to a general of the Philippine National Police.”

When asked if he still trusts Albayalde, Duterte replied with: “Well, he is still there.  Otherwise, I would have you know just — I would have told him to just go out.”

The issue on ‘ninja cops’ was revived when Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino bared during a 2020 budget hearing about the continued activities of ‘ninja cops’ and their link to so-called Manila ‘drug queen,’ later identified as former village chief Guia Gomez Castro.

Albayalde’s name was dragged into the issue after former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong mentioned a controversial 2013 anti-drug operation carried out by cops under Albayalde who was then the head of Pampanga police provincial office.

Albayalde was relieved from his post in 2014 for command responsibility while the involved operatives were charged and ordered dismissed.

The dismissal order, however, was not implemented as the police officers were only demoted in 2017.

Aquino, who was then the chief of Central Luzon Regional Police Office, claimed Albayalde called him to ask not to enforce the dismissal order against the 13 cops.

The PNP chief has repeatedly denied the allegation. He insisted during a Senate hearing that he only called then Central Luzon Regional police director Aquino in 2016 to ask about the status of his former men’s case.

Duterte earlier said he will wait for the Senate and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to end their respective probes on the case of the so-called ‘ninja cops’ before deciding what action to take.RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Solons probe on missing P20M reward money in Batocabe slay case

Marje Pelayo   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – When AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort PO3 Rolando Diaz were murdered on December 22, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte offered P20 million reward for the capture of the assailants.

In addition, Batocabe’s colleagues in the House of Representatives (HOR) collectively gave P13 million, while the Albay Provincial Government sent out P2 million, making the overall amount of cash bounty to P35 million pesos.

But during the inquiry of the House Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday (November 20), PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Dir. P/BGen. Joel Coronel revealed that only P13M from the said amount were handed to the CIDG and the Intelligence Group which they distributed to credible witnesses in the crime.

From the said amount, P6M was given to witness Emmanuel Judavar and to seven other witnesses who requested anonymity.

Two of them received P2M each, another two received P1M each, one witness received P500,000, and another two witnesses received P250,000 each.

But the CIDG couldn’t present a breakdown of the distribution of the P20M cash reward that the President provided.

Coronel said the money, which they believed was received by then PNP Chief now-retired General Oscar Albayalde, was not turned over to them.

“The records of the distribution and liquidation of which were submitted directly to the Office of the President and I do not have the record, it did not pass through the CIDG,” explained Coronel when asked by Senator Koko Pimentel as to what happened to the reward money.

Pimentel argued that the said amount must be liquidated because it came from the Office of the President, therefore, it is ‘tax money.’

In response to a text message from UNTV, Albayalde sternly denied that he accepted the missing reward money.

“Lahat iyan na kay CIDG at IG. Wala akong hinawakan na reward money! Huwag nilang hanapin sa akin yan! (They are with CIDG and IG. I did not accept any reward money! They shouldn’t ask me that),” he said in a text message.

AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. did not buy CIDG’s argument thus he said he is determined to push through with the investigation.

“We have a second hearing wherein former Chief PNP will be invited at ang tatlo pang (and the three other) witnesses na nakatanggap ng (who also received cash) bounty, at ang PD ng (as well as the Police Director of) Albay, Col Asueta to shed light on the P2-million,” Garbin said.

“Three suspects din sila (They are considered three of the suspects) and we have to confirm on them kung magkano talaga ang kanilang na-receive (how much they really received),” he added.

During the inquiry earlier today (November 21), lawmakers agreed that General Albayalde should also be subpoenaed and be cited in contempt should he refused to appear in the next hearing.

The recent retraction of the three suspects favoring former Daraga Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo dismayed the late Batocabe’s son Atty. Justin Batocabe.

The younger Batocabe suspected that money is working behind their backs.

“Iyan na nga po ang nakakabahala dyan. Nasulot (That’s what I was expecting. They were swayed to pull back),” he said.

“Ang balita sa akin ay nabayaran daw para bumaliktad at tinakot and at the same time binigyan ng abogado (I was informed that they were bribed to retract their statements and they were even provided with lawyers),” he said referring to the suspects. – MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte says he ordered dismissal of 3 cops in body camera extortion case

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 21, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (November 20) said that he ordered the dismissal of three police officers involved in the body camera extortion case.

The three police officers were allegedly involved in extorting around P5 million from a bidder of body cameras.

“In the police, I—the three majors were working on a body camera and they were arguing because maybe of—because of money. What else? Because of corruption. And so I said, ‘Fire them, dismiss them,'” he said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa identified the police officers as Police Major Emerson Sales, Police Major Rholly Caraggayan and Police Major Angel Beros. 

Gamboa also said that he will sign the dismissal papers by Monday (November 25).—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace tells Robredo, Aquino: “Trust is earned”

Robie de Guzman   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – “Trust is earned.”

This was Malacañang’s response to Vice President Leni Robredo and her ally, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino after they questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s lack of trust in the vice president despite her appointment as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

In a statement issued on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Robredo must “understand that one’s election to the Vice Presidency does not automatically clothe the occupant with trustworthiness.”

“Trust is earned. The missteps of the VP did not inspire confidence in the matter of keeping to oneself classified information,” he said.

“Her job in leading the agencies involved in the anti-illegal drug campaign requires competence and creativity. Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country,” he added.

Panelo also said that the president’s expressed remark should not stop Robredo from performing her new task.

“Since she will not be given access to privileged communication, she should not be bothered by the expressed lack of trust by the appointing power with respect to the confidentiality of state matters requiring secrecy,” he said.

“After all, she is tasked to help end the illegal drug trade in the country and not to get secret information of the government to share the same with her foreign and local peers,” he added.

The Palace official also reiterated that despite her being a member of a political opposition group, she was still given the job to co-lead the government anti-drug body to help address the country’s drug problem instead of “endlessly voicing criticisms.”

“Her designation is a call of duty coming from the Chief Executive to end the illegal drug trade in the country, a rare chance given to her, despite her being in the opposition, to help in the campaign against illegal drugs, instead of being a rambunctious critic who cannot see anything good on the war on drugs initiated by this administration,” he said.

Panelo also asked Aquino to focus on his case still pending before the Sandiganbayan, as well as taking care of his health, instead of “touching on a matter related to the dreaded drug menace that he never gave the attention and importance it deserves during his six-year presidency.”

The Palace official earlier claimed that the country’s drug problem “ballooned in magnitude” due to neglect during Aquino’s presidency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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