MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte "trusts" the head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as it wrestles with an allegation that a "high-ranking official" is protecting "ninja cops" or those who allegedly resell confiscated narcotics, Malacañang said Thursday.
PNP chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde's integrity "is solid," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
"Given the fact that this man whose reputation has never been soiled and considering the fact that the President trusts him, then anything that will link him to any irregularity will be a black propaganda," he told ANC.
"Unless you can introduce to me evidence that will disprove this reputation of the man, I'm not inclined to believe any of this tsismis (gossip)."
Albayalde was chief of the Pampanga police in 2007 when several of its members were accused of recycling drugs by Benjamin Magalong, then head of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, whose charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Magalong, now mayor of Baguio City, said last week that a "high-ranking official" was protecting 22 drug-dabbling officers, whom he identified in a Senate executive session.
Duterte on Wednesday summoned Albayalde to Malacañang because he "wants to be updated on what is happening on the war on crimes," said Panelo.
Asked if Duterte's order was also prompted by Magalong's claims, Panelo said, "Not necessarily but that's part of it."
Albayalde, he said, informed Duterte that the ninja-cop syndicate was "dismantled" during the term of former PNP chief and now Sen. Ronald 'Bato' Dela Rosa.
"That ninja cops syndicate happened prior to this administration. Those involved were either dead or have already been removed from the police force. In other words, they're no longer there," Panelo said, citing information from Albayalde.
Twenty-two policemen are "under close watch" and facing case build-up for alleged drug recycling, PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said earlier Thursday.
Magalong and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have separate intelligence reports that bring up the total number of alleged ninja cops to "more or less 50," said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino.
"The President has his own intelligence. He will listen to both of them (Albayalde and Aquino) and he will make a decision," said Panelo.
He said he did not know whether Duterte will summon Magalong.
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said the President will ask an independent body to investigate the issue of rogue cops.
"Antayin ang pangulo sa magiging desisyon niya. Nasa isipan na niya na may isang ahensiya na mag-iimbestiga dito at nabanggit niya kagabi, ipapasa sa isang ahensiya na independent na mag-iimbestiga kung ano talaga 'yung katotohanan," he said.
He also said the President is still in the process of reading the report from the Senate.