Senate panel recommends drug, graft charges vs Albayalde, 13 'ninja cops'

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2019 02:38 PM | Updated as of Oct 18 2019 08:02 PM

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Sen. Richard Gordon addresses the media during a press conference on Friday as he released their findings on the so-called "ninja cops". George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde and 13 police officers once under his command are liable for drug and graft charges for their alleged involvement in the resale of confiscated narcotics and the coverup of the incident in 2013, a lawmaker said Friday.

Albayalde, who was head of Pampanga police when the questioned raid took place, and his men are "guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance," Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Sen. Richard Gordon told reporters. 

Malfeasance is committing an act that one had no legal right to perform. Misfeasance is the failure to exercise due care and diligence in the performance of an official duty. Nonfeasance is the refusal to perform an act which an officer is obliged to perform. 

"You have all the circumstantial connection, pinabayaan 'yung kaso (they neglected the case). At the very least liable siya doon, dereliction of duty," Gordon said, releasing findings of the committee's probe. 

"If you ask me as a lawyer and not as Blue Ribbon chair, it would warrant drug charges against Albayalde," he said. 

Albayalde's men, led by Supt. Rodney Baloyo, sold at least 160 kilograms of shabu worth around P648 million they had seized in an anti-drug operation on alleged Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee in 2013, several police generals and officials earlier told the Senate panel. 

The case of the "ninja cops" dragged on for over 3 years, with Albayalde supposedly intervening in favor of his men, according to testimonies of former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino. 

The so-called "ninja cops" earlier denied the allegations before senators, but Gordon described their testimonies as a "comedy of lies."

"Hindi buy-bust. Ang talagang pakay ay manghu-hulidap. Ni walang test buy... To make the long story short, talagang hao siao, lutong macau," he said.

(It wasn't a buy-bust. Their intent was to catch and rob. There wasn't even a test buy. To make the long story short, it was hao siao, lutong macau.)

 ANTI-DRUG LAW VIOLATIONS

Albayalde "profited from the sale of shabu made by Baloyo and his men," the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said in its draft report.

Under Section 27 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, any public official is criminally liable if he or she fails to account for confiscated, seized or surrendered illegal drugs, the report noted.

The law also covers the misappropriation of proceeds or properties obtained from the sale of the illegal substances. Guilty parties may be sentenced to life imprisonment, a fine of between P500,000 and P10 million, and perpetual disqualification from public office.

The "sham buy-bust operation" inside the house of Ding Wenkun could also qualify as "planting of evidence," an offense punishable by life imprisonment, the panel report said. 

"Di mo chineck 'yung mga tao mo, di mo sila binantayan (You did not check your men, you did not keep watch), it becomes a very, very strong case vs Gen. Albayalde and his men," Gordon said.

"By reason of seniority, superiority, competence, I think he is liable, very liable," he said.

ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT VIOLATIONS

The report also said Albayalde broke the law when he asked Aquino and former Central Luzon police chief Rudy Lacadin "not to implement the dismissal order" against the 13 Pampanga policemen who were part of his team. 

"When they make a mistake, they must be removed, they must be taken out of the police force para hindi na sila gagayahin, para hindi na sila makapangulimbat (so they won't be emulated, so they can't steal)," Gordon said.

"Personally, there could be ground [for Albayalde] to be principal. Malakas loob ng mga tao niya dahil nandiyan siya e. Paanong hindi lalakas loob e may kaso na inilipat mo pa sa Antipolo, sa Tagaytay (His men are emboldened because he is there. Why won't they be when they have a case and you reassigned them to Antipolo, Tagaytay)?" he said.

Albayalde's alleged intervention is prohibited under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the panel said. If convicted, he may be imprisoned for 6 to 15 years and may be perpetually disqualified from public office.

Baloyo and his men may also be charged with robbery and unlawful arrest for apprehending alleged drug peddler Ding Wen Kun and seizing his property without following police protocol.

Albayalde earlier denied allegations that linked him to the ninja cops controversy, saying the case was being politicized. He stepped down as police chief on Monday, just days before his retirement on Nov. 8. 

Gordon said the former PNP chief simply failed to give an acceptable explanation during questioning at the Senate probe.

"Sinabi niya pinagtutulungan siya, pinag-iinitan siya (He said they were ganging up on him, they were hot on him), but he never defended himself adequately," the senator said.

"A big fat zero. If he had followed suit, investigated his own men, demoted, then he could have talked about something," he said.

 OTHER PROPOSALS

Aside from the recommended charges, the Senate panel also suggested the following legislative proposals to improve PNP operations:

  • Strengthening the Internal Affairs Service by making it an independent institution outside the PNP
  • Immediately suspending or dismissing rogue police officers instead of reassigning them to other posts
  • Confiscating service firearms and badges of rogue police officers facing criminal and administrative charges
  • Shortening the review of administrative cases filed against rogue police officers
  • Creating a training program that will focus on values and character formation of police officers
  • Creating a new curriculum for police cadets that will comprise of 4 years of college education and 2 years of training

The report needs to be signed by at least 11 members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and at least 5 members of the Senate Justice Committee for it to be considered as an official report, Gordon said.

At least 13 senators must also agree with the report's findings before it can be adopted by the Senate.

Once adopted, the report will be submitted to the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman to follow through on the recommended filing of charges. 

Gordon said he did not officially send a copy of the report to Malacañang since Sen. Bong Go is expected to share the findings with President Rodrigo Duterte, for whom he was longtime aide. 

The Senate investigation on the ninja cops has yet to be terminated as the Blue Ribbon Committee is still waiting for several developments, Gordon said.