Investigator clears Albayalde in alleged 'agaw-bato' ops

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2019 08:00 PM

MANILA - The police official who investigated the controversial 2013 buy-bust operation where a group of Pampanga cops allegedly stashed millions worth of shabu cleared the team’s former leader, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde.

Retired Brigadier General Manuel Gaerlan, who was tapped by then Central Luzon police office chief Raul Petrasanta to investigate the allegedly anomalous operation, said investigators found nothing that would implicate Albayalde to the questioned buy-bust.

“In fairness to Gen. Albayalde, wala naman kaming nakitang evidence or testimony implicating him, that’s why ang recommendation namin sa committee na nag-imbestiga was to relieve him,” Gaerlan told the Senate Blue Ribbon and justice committees probing alleged irregularities in the police force.

(In fairness to Gen. Albayalde, we did not see any evidence or testimony implicating him, that's why our recommendation to the investigating committee was to relieve him.)

Albayalde, as Pampanga police chief, was relieved from duty following the allegedly questionable anti-narcotics operation of his men in Nov. 2013 in Mexico town.

The Pampanga cops, led by then Supt. Rodney Baloyo, allegedly made off with some 160 kilograms of shabu worth around P648 million at the time following an anti-drug operation on alleged Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee.

Baloyo’s team also allegedly set Lee free and presented another Chinese, identified in reports as Ding Wengkun, in exchange for P50 million.

Gaerlan said a “deeper investigation” into the case revealed that the Pampanga cops were lying.

He said the investigation found that the team indeed stashed the 160 kilograms of shabu and swapped the real suspect with another individual.

While Gaerlan cleared Albayalde of any involvement in the buy-bust, the PNP chief is still in hot water for allegedly intervening in his former men’s case.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino testified Tuesday that during his time as Central Luzon police chief, Albayalde, who was then Metro Manila’s top cop, called him in 2016 to seek updates on the case of the Pampanga cops.

Aquino also revealed Thursday that Albayalde asked him not to implement any decision on the cops’ motion for reconsideration on their dismissal from service.

In November 2014, Petrasanta ordered the dismissal of Baloyo and his men, but this was not served and implemented immediately.

The two officials who succeeded Petrasanta - Ronald Santos and Rudy Lacadin - both failed to resolve the case of the Pampanga cops.

When he assumed his post as Central Luzon police chief - succeeding Lacadin - Aquino sought a review of the Pampanga cops’ case and just reassigned them to Mindanao.

Aquino admitted that the Central Luzon police had its plate full during that time because of the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, and sending erring cops to Mindanao had become some sort of a “band-aid” solution.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said this gave the impression that Aquino granted Albayalde’s supposed request.

“No sir. Kasi sir sabi ko nga pinareview ko iyon. I was waiting for the feedback then and na-overcome nga ako ng mga trabaho,” Aquino told Lacson.

In 2017, under the leadership of Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, the officers were just demoted.

In the wake of the Senate probe, the PNP has placed the cops on floating status.