MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to indict former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde and 12 other police officers in relation to a 2013 anti-drug operation in Mexico, Pampanga.
In a statement released Thursday, a panel of state prosecutors said it found probable cause to charge Albayalde with "violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations in connection with the official duties of the latter, and for causing any undue injury to any party, including the government."
It, meanwhile, cleared Albayalde of charges of misappropriating confiscated drugs, falsifying public documents, and failure to prosecute police officers.
The panel also found probable cause to indict 12 other police officers for several violations, including qualified bribery, planting of evidence and delay and bungling in the prosecution of drug cases, among others.
Albayalde had resigned in October last year, just weeks before his retirement, as he faced allegations of protecting his men linked to selling seized illegal drugs during his time as Pampanga police chief.
The officers were tagged in pilfering some 160 kilos of shabu from a 2013 operation against a suspected Chinese drug lord.
Among those indicted were: Police Lt. Col. Rodney Raymundo Louie Juico Baloyo IV; Police Lt. Joven Bagnot De Guzman, Jr.; Police Master Sgts. Jules Lacap Maniago, Donald Castro Roque, Ronald Bayas Santos, Rommel Muñoz Vital, Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio, Eligio Dayos Valeroso and Dante Mercado Dizon; and Police Staff Sgts. Dindo Singian Dizon, Gilbert Angeles De Vera, and Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero Jr.
One police officer, Police Cpl. Anthony Loleng Lacsamana, was cleared of charges for insufficient evidence. The panel found that he was not part of the operation.
The panel said it would submit its findings to the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a statement, Albayalde said he welcomes the development as he will finally be given a chance to defend himself in court.
"I welcome this development as the chance to once and for all clear my name in the proper forum. Finally, I will have my day in court," he said.
He also expressed confidence the truth will prevail in the end.
"My conscience remains clear, and I am confident that the truth will bear me out in the end," Albayalde added.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson said cops should avoid doing misdeeds in the first place so as to avoid punishment in the future.
"The lesson learned here is that the law does not only have a long arm. It also has a very long memory," he said in a statement.
"Having said that, the surest way for police officers like P/Maj. Baloyo et al to avoid past misdeeds from catching up with them is not to commit those misdemeanors in the first place," Lacson added.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra asked the panel in October 2019 to reinvestigate allegations surrounding the 2013 drug raid after former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Benjamin Magalong and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino accused Albayalde of intervening in the case of the Pampanga officers.
The two retired police officials said Albayalde, then chief of Pampanga police, made calls to ensure they would be spared from being axed.
Former Central Luzon police chief Rudy Lacadin also said Albayalde not only tried to influence the outcome of the investigation but even admitted to partaking in the drug loot.
- report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News