MANILA — Former police official Benjamin Magalong claimed Saturday that he has the "full support" of President Rodrigo Duterte after he accused the head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of protecting several officers who allegedly recycled drugs.
PNP chief Police Director Oscar Albayalde was chief of the Pampanga police when 13 of its officers allegedly pilfered some 160 kilos of shabu in a 2013 operation against an alleged drug lord.
Magalong claimed Albayalde in 2016 asked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Aaron Aquino, who was then chief of the Central Luzon police, not to implement a dismissal order against the Pampanga officers.
"Alam na rin ni Presidente kung anong katotohanan d'yan. Andoon naman ako, andoon din si Aaron Aquino na nakipag-usap at alam niya, inilahad naman namin lahat sa kaniya," said Magalong, former head of the PNP Criminal Investigation Group (CIDG) and now mayor of Baguio City.
"Isa lang ang masasabi ko, full support siya sa amin," he told radio DZMM.
(The President already knows the truth there. I was there, Aaron Aquino was also there, we talked to him and told him everything. I can only say one thing, he gave us his full support.)
Magalong did not say when he and Aquino talked to Duterte, who is set to fly back to Manila from a 5-day trip in Russia Saturday night.
Duterte "trusts" Albayalde, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said.
"Mabuti pa siguro kung si Secretary Panelo e tanungin niya talaga iyong saloobin ng Presidente... Ayaw ko namang mag-speculate kung saan nanggagaling iyong kaniyang information, kung totoo nga bang nakikipag-usap siya sa Presidente," said Magalong.
(It will be better if Secretary Panelo asks the sentiments of the President. I don't want to speculate on where his information is coming from, if he really talked to the President.)
"Pero kung titingnan mo naman, maraming okasyon na mali rin iyong kaniyang mga nasasabi. Pero trabaho iyan ng spokesman e, intindihin na lang natin siya," he added.
(But if we will look back, there have been many occasions in which his statement was wrong. But that's the job of a spokesman, let's just understand him.)
Meanwhile, the interior department said Friday that Duterte has ordered an investigation into Albayalde, who is set to retire in November.
"We will go where the evidence will point us. We will look at the allegations against him. And do a fair and thorough investigation as much as we can because I think this is what the President wants and what the public demands," said Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.
Up to this day, the Pampanga police officers are still on active duty, and the justice department said it was expediting the review of their criminal cases.