'Ninja moves?' Albayalde exit earns mixed reactions from lawmakers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2019 03:30 PM

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde (right) is congratulated by Police Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar after the flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday. Albayalde stepped down on Monday after he faced allegations in a Senate hearing that he intervened as a provincial police chief in 2013 to prevent his officers from being prosecuted for allegedly selling a huge quantity of illegal drugs they had seized. Philippine National Police via AP

MANILA - Lawmakers on Monday welcomed Gen. Oscar Albayalde's decision to step down from his post before his mandatory retirement next month but said he should be held liable over the so-called "ninja cops" or policemen who recycle seized illicit drugs.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Albayalde should face charges along with other former government officials who also quit their posts over various controversies such as Wanda Tulfo Teo, Vitaliano Aguirre and Jason Aquino. He also mentioned Nicanor Faeldon, who was sacked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Faeldon was fired amid the Senate's investigation into its implementation of the good conduct time allowance law. Tulfo Teo left her post as tourism secretary following accusations that she used her position to give income to her brothers' television show. 

Aguirre quit as justice secretary after the department cleared drug suspects Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim of charges. Aquino, former administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA), asked to be replaced after the agency got flak over the NFA rice supply crisis, which contributed to higher inflation. 

"He (Albayalde) and all the rest should be charged for at the very least enriching themselves using their government office -- regardless of their having resigned," he said in a statement.

"But the reality is: for a government that claims to be against illegal drugs and corruption, it has acted in the opposite direction and has in fact coddled the corrupt and those linked to illegal drugs."

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meantime, said Albayalde's move was not the end to the "ninja cops" issue.

"This is not closure. Ang desisyon ni General Albayalde na magbitiw sa kanyang pwesto ay hindi nangangahulugan na tapos na ang isyu ukol sa mga 'ninja cops' at iba pang tiwaling pulis na sangkot sa pagbebenta ng droga at katiwalian," she said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, said he has "mixed feelings" about Albayalde's resignation.

"His statements prior to his formal announcement today to relinquish command of the 190,000 strong police force have somehow diminished the redeeming value of his intent to spare the PNP from the so-called ‘ninja cops’ controversies," he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would rather "wait for events to unfold" before making a comment.

"Kapag may sugat ang ibang tao, ayoko nang lagyan ng asin," he said.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, meanwhile, said she suspects Albayalde was only securing his retirement package by relinquishing his post ahead of time.

“Eto na naman ano, ninja moves na naman si Albayalde," she said.

"Dati ayaw niya kasi hihintayin niya daw (retirement), pero ngayon parang may pag-amin na sa isang banda na: 'Oops, oo nga kailangan na umalis at nagkakahiyaan na sa posisyon na ganito.' Okay sa amin 'yun na talagang magresign na kasi 'yan na nga 'yung panawagan namin," she added.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said Albayalde should still be held liable for his actions, while Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said his resignation "does not end the deadly negligence and corrupter in the Duterte administration's drug war."

"Beyond his resignation, we demand an end to the drug war's murderous rampage; we demand justice and accountability,” Elago said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares said Albayalde's move was designed as a smokescreen to hide the corruption and shenanigans of government's drug war.

"They are trying to minimize the damage that Gen. Albayalde's involvement had done, which is why he was let go earlier," Gaite said.

"As late as last Friday, Albayade was adamant that he would not resign but what transpired over the weekend that he changed his mind? Apparently he became too hot to handle and the Senate investigation has further exposed the bogus character of the drug war of President Duterte," he added. --With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News