MANILA - Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde on Wednesday maintained his innocence amid allegations he tried to intervene in the case of his former subordinates who were accused of pilfering millions of pesos worth of narcotics in a 2013 drug raid in Pampanga.
Albayalde said if there was even a slight indication that he was involved in the drug pilferage, he would have been included in the probe that led to the dismissal on his former men, an order that was downgraded to a mere demotion in 2017.
"After the investigation po very clear na wala sigurong nakita kasi I was never charged both criminally and administratively," Albayalde said during Wednesday’s hearing.
"Otherwise kung meron silang nakita sa akin… even if I’m liable for command responsibility, I would be charged for command responsibility."
Albayalde said that in the numerous investigations done involving the case, nothing was found that would implicate him to the anomalous raid.
"Over and over and over again, nandito ang mga investigators… wala akong kinalaman," he said. "Otherwise, meron po akong kahit man lang administrative charge."
Albayalde, as Pampanga police chief, was relieved from duty following the allegedly questionable November 2013 anti-narcotics operation of his men in Pampanga.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon committee, asked Albayalde why he did not question his relief even though he believed he was innocent.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, explained to Gordon that police officers rarely question orders.
“We never question bakit kami ni-relieve. We never question our superior officers, there’s no such thing in the military or the police,” Lacson said.
“Iba ang kultura ng civilian sector, na pwedeng mag-motion, sa amin hindi ganoon. Kapag ikaw tinanggal ka without asking why, we follow.”
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.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino has testified 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 that Albayalde asked him not to implement the dismissal order against Baloyo and his men.
Maintaining innocence in the allegations against him and defending his call to Aquino, Albayalde has rejected calls for his resignation ahead of his Nov. 8 retirement.