Albayalde orders return of PDEA chief’s police escorts
MANILA, Philippines — Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the Philippine National Police chief, has ordered the Central Luzon director, Brig. General Joel Coronel, to return four of the 15 police security escorts withdrawn from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.
Albayalde said having 15 police security escorts was “not normal” and was a deviation from the Alunan doctrine—a policy set by former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III during the Ramos administration, which states that three or more bodyguards would be considered a private army.
Based on the Alunan doctrine, the four police escorts returned to Aquino still constitutes a private army.
The doctrine, revived by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, was intended to put a stop to the proliferation of private armies and loose firearms.
In an interview after Monday’s ceremonial turnover by the Philippine Public Safety College of the Philippine National Police Academy to the PNP in Cavite, Albayalde said the return of Aquino’s security escorts was only temporary until after police personnel from the police security and protection group (PSPG) were assigned to the PDEA chief.
He noted that the deployment of 15 police security escorts from the Central Luzon mobile group to Aquino was also a temporary arrangement, noting that only the PNP PSPG is authorized to assign police personnel for VIP protection.
What Aquino was asking, he said, was that all 15 of his security escorts be transferred to the PSPG, which would mean that the Central Luzon police office would lose 15 men from its regional mobile group.
Albayalde said the matter needed to be discussed with Coronel, who was making the preparations for the Southeast Asian games in November when thousands of police personnel were needed to secure the athletes and the different venues.
According to the PNP chief, the PDEA had its own men—some of them fully trained retired military and police personnel—who could be tapped as security escorts.
“In other VIPs we are very strict in implementing the Alunan doctrine but here we are extending courtesy already,” Albayalde said.
“No less than the President has a directive that we follow strictly the Alunan doctrine,” Albayalde said, adding that even he as PNP chief has only two security escorts.
He, nevertheless, said there was no law violated in deploying that many police security escorts and added that he was not privy to the arrangement made by Coronel’s predecessor and Aquino.
But Sen. Richard Gordon chided the PNP for justifying the recall of the security detail of Aquino, saying it was a “retaliatory” move in connection with the “ninja cop” controversy.
“That’s silly!” Gordon told reporters on Monday when asked about the PNP’s explanation that it pulled out Aquino’s police escorts to augment the security personnel for the Southeast Asian Games, which will be held in Central Luzon from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
He said the PNP had informed him that the PDEA chief’s security escorts would be reinstated soon.
“[The PNP] said they would bring back [Aquino’s security detail] because [the recall] was just temporary. But the timing is bad. Why would they remove the [police escorts] at this time?” he said.
“There are so many policemen. Why would you remove from the No. 1 drug buster in the country his security? That will put him in a very dangerous situation,” the senator said.
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