PDEA chief says Albayalde inquired about case of 13 rogue cops in 2016
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino on Tuesday revealed that Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde called him up in 2016 to inquire about the 2014 grave misconduct case against 13 Pampanga policemen, which was previously under his command.
The 13 Pampanga policemen, who were under the leadership of then Pampanga police provincial director Albayalde, were found guilty of grave misconduct for failing to account all confiscated evidence during an illegal drug buy-bust operation in Mexico, Pampanga, in November 2013.
The policemen were initially ordered dismissed but was only demoted by one rank after a motion for reconsideration was filed in March 2016.
During the Senate investigation into the issue of policemen involved in illegal drug trade, Aquino, who was then the Central Luzon police chief in 2016, said Albayalde asked him for details of the case.
“There was a time when General Albayalde called me. I cannot recall kung anong date, anong specific month, but it’s between July and December 2016. Nagtatanong siya ng status of the case [I cannot recall what the specific date or month, but it’s between July and December 2016. He was asking for updates on the case],” Aquino said.
He added that Albayalde asked him to have the case reviewed and checked because he wanted to know what will be the result of the case.
“Sabi ko, ‘bakit mo tinatanong?’ Sabi niya ‘kasi mga tao ko ‘yan’ [Then I said, ‘why are you asking?’ And then he responded ‘because those are my men’],” the PDEA chief said.
Aquino said that he told Albayalde that he will order his then chief regional officer to review the case and would sign it after the review.
It can be recalled that prior to his stint as PNP chief, Albayalde was appointed as the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief in July 2016 under the Duterte administration.
The PDEA chief made his revelation after Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who was a former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), coaxed him to “tell the truth.” Magalong said he and Aquino met the week before.
“I know, Aaron, you are in a tight situation… But this is a fight between right and wrong. Bakit hindi mo sabihin kung ano ang sinabi mo sa ‘kin? Sino ang kumausap sayo? [Why won’t you tell what you told me? Who talked to you?]” Magalong said during the hearing.
“Dapat sabihin mo [You should say it] because the only way to clarify everything is to simply tell the truth,” he added.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate justice and human rights committee and the blue ribbon committee that is holding the Senate inquiry, asked Aquino if he did not think that Albayalde calling him about the case was “inappropriate.”
“Did you find it appropriate for him to call you? I find it inappropriate,” the senator said.
Aquino answered that Albayalde was just asking about the case as the people involved were indeed his men.
“He was just asking about the status of the case and the request for the review on this case,” he said. /jpv
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