By Ma RL Tolentino/Manila Times
Senator Richard Gordon yesterday said he did not care if Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde would bow out from the service next month, saying retirement does not bar criminal prosecution or free anyone from administrative charges.
During the In Focus forum in Quezon City, the senator added that people had told him to just let the police chief retire.
“You know, a lot of people tell me, ‘Just let him retire….’ We have to lay down the standard. I don’t care if you’re retiring,” said Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which has been conducting an investigation of “ninja cops” or policemen who allegedly recycle seized illegal drugs.
“In the first place, that’s wishful thinking. If he… is guilty, even if he retires, Magalong can go after him, the secretary of Justice can go after him,” the senator added.
A former director of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Magalong is now the mayor of Baguio City.
When asked whether his statement that he did not care if Albayalde was retiring meant that he would file charges against the latter, Gordon said to reporters in an interview, “Not me… The law says your retirement is not a bar for criminal prosecution or administrative cases.”
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has said President Rodrigo Duterte is monitoring and reviewing the Senate probe of Albayalde and the ninja cop issue as the president “is eager to know the truth.”
“The case is being investigated by the DoJ and the DILG. The president might talk to DILG Secretary Ano this afternoon and they might talk about the case,” Go added
A former special assistant to the president before winning in the 2019 Senate race, he made the revelation after visiting fire victims in Sta. Ana, Manila and BF International in Paranaque City last Friday.
“Let’s see the evidence. President Duterte is interested in the case and he reads all the resolutions and timeline on what happened in 2013. He is aware that the people are waiting and are also interested to know the truth,” Go added.
Albayalde’s men, in 2013, raided a subdivision house owned by Korean Johnson Lee in Mexico, Pampanga, where more than 168 of the seized 200 kilos of shabu (crystal meth) worth more than P600mn were later reported missing.
Lee’s vehicles were allegedly appropriated by some of the police raiders and the “kidnapped” Lee was freed after paying P50mn in ransom.
Go said “the president wants to be fair to everybody regarding the issue.”
“President Duterte and I fully support the police organisation. The good ones should not be tainted by the unethical or illegal acts of the few,” Go said, adding that Filipinos now respect the police.
He said internal cleansing within the agency must continue. When asked for his suggestion on who must lead the PNP after Albayalde, Go replied that such prerogative lies with the president.
Although he is close to the president, the senator said he does not suggest to the president. “That is the prerogative of the president. Trust and confidence is important. The successor must be able to unite the PNP rank and file, and cleanse the PNP,” Go explained.
Albayalde told reporters on Friday that he would relinquish his post on October 29, not November 8.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac clarified that on October 29, it would be a turnover, not an early-retirement ceremony.
Banac explained that such move was decided because of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Bangkok, Thailand to be attended by President Duterte in the first week of November.
Magalong said the “stepping down” of Albayalde as PNP chief 10 days before his scheduled November 8 retirement would be good for the image of the PNP. Albayalde would be 56 years old, the mandatory retirement age for members of the uniformed services.
As he could retire and get his retirement benefits, there would be doubts about his integrity, Magalong said.
He added that Albayalde had three choices in November 2013 when the Pampanga raid was conducted: do what is right, do nothing and do something wrong.
Unfortunately, Albayalde, at the time Pampanga provincial police chief, did not choose the right option, Magalong said in a radio DWIZ interview.
“If we get jailed, so be it,” he quipped after Albayalde sought the legal advice of former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza on possible legal actions that the PNP chief would take against him and two other retired PNP generals who pinned him down on the ninja cop controversy. Magalong said Albayalde’s decision to seek legal advice from Mendoza was his right, but hinted that the former Solicitor General should be discerning on the Albayalde case.
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