Duterte on whether he still trusts Albayalde: He is still there
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday expressed his trust and confidence to Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde as he clarified that there were no police generals who were allegedly involved in "recycling" of illegal drugs.
During his arrival speech in Davao City, Duterte said he could not just remove Albayalde, who was allegedly a protector of the so-called "ninja cops," who were into the recycling of seized narcotics. Albayalde denied the accusation.
“Well, that he is still there. Otherwise, I would have you know just --- I would have told him to just go out… Just give me a proof because I’m a lawyer,” he said when asked if he still has trust and confidence with Albayalde.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a former head of the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, in a Senate investigation, claimed Albayalde, who was then acting provincial director of Pampanga Provincial Police Office, was involved in the 2013 controversial Pampanga drug raid conducted by the alleged ninja cops.
Because of the issue, Duterte said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año would investigate the alleged ninja cops, possibly including Albayalde, once the Senate finished with its hearing on the alleged recycling of illegal drugs.
“The Office of the President functions to the Cabinet members. The PNP is under Secretary Año of the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government). He has to conduct the investigation, give the proper importance of the work of Congress in the matter of the investigation of the so-called ninja cops,” the President said.
“Then he must report to me now on what to do and his recommendation… I approve or disapprove with finality once it reaches my office,” he added.
But while the Senate is expected to come up with its own report, the President said he could not just adopt the result of its investigation as a work of the Executive department.
“I need to review it, if everything is right then I’ll adopt it. But then, there must be a process. It has to undergo the procedural due process,” he said.
Duterte said just like criminals, Albayalde's side should also be heard.
“You know, Albayalde is the PNP chief. There is no--- give me a clear proof that he was really there on the take or was in the trafficking of drugs,” he said.
Even if there is a claim from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Director General Aaron Aquino that Albayalde called him when he was the regional director of Central Luzon to hold the dismissal of the cops involved in the drug raid, Duterte said he could not just “do it (firing of Albayalde) in a knee jerk”.
"I have to follow procedural due process and allow him time to answer. The right to be heard. It’s given to the criminals, to the kidnappers. It should be given to a general of the Philippine National Police because under the laws, we are all equal,” he said.
Albayalde admitted calling Aquino to ask for the status of the cops but he denied asking a favor.
On his statements in Russia about the “generals still playing with illegal drugs”, Duterte said he was just confused since the list he received used the old police ranking.
“I must admit my ignorance actually… there is no general (on the list),” he said in Davao City.
“I’m sure of that. Based on the report I received--- colonel I think. I’m confused on superintendent. The only superintendent I know is the one in school,” he said.
Under the current government, a law was passed making the police ranks similar to that of the military.
Asked if he already has someone in mind to be the next PNP chief as Albayalde is set to retire in November when he reaches 56, the mandatory retirement age for men in uniform, Duterte said he still needs to consult his officials.
“Not yet, that’s hard. I have to --- they call it vet. I have to consult everybody," he said, adding that he wants to make sure that he would not encounter any problem with the next PNP chief.
Albayalde, who is set to retire on November 8, has expressed belief that issues were being thrown against him so that the President would reject whoever he would recommend as his successor. Ella Dionisio/DMS