MANILA - The Philippines' top cop Oscar Albayalde directly asked another police official not to implement a dismissal order against Pampanga police men who were accused of pilfering millions of pesos worth of shabu seized during an operation in 2013, the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said Thursday.
PDEA chief Aaron Aquino earlier 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.
On Thursday, Aquino revealed Albayalde also asked him not to implement any decision on the cops’ motion for reconsideration on their dismissal from service.
“I wish to explain my statement yesterday that Gen. Albayalde called me up to know the status of the case…He also added, ‘sir baka pwede huwag mo munang i-implement ang order,’” Aquino said.
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.
Albayalde earlier said he only asked Aquino about the status of the case because the relatives of the cops were seeking updates from him.
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.
In November 2014, then Region 3 Police Director Raul Petrasanta ordered the dismissal of Baloyo and his men, but this was not served and implemented immediately.
Two more officials succeeded Petrasanta - Ronald Santos and Rudy Lacadin. Both also failed to resolve the case of the Pampanga cops.
During Aquino’s time, he sought for a review of the Pampanga cops’ case and just reassigned them to Mindanao.
He admitted that the Central Luzon police had its plate full 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 replied to Lacson.
In 2017, under the leadership of Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, the officers were merely demoted.
In the wake of the Senate probe, the PNP has placed the cops on floating status.
During his testimony, Aquino also revealed he has been receiving death threats after he accused Albayalde of intervening in the case of his former men.
He said a friend warned him that "some personalities are plotting against my family."
"His exact words were, 'Sir, pinaghahandaan nila ang pamilya mo,'" he said.