Lacson to Duterte: Look into ‘service reputation’ of next PNP chief
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte should look into the “service reputation” of the aspirants for the top post in the Philippine National Police in the wake of the “ninja cop” scandal hounding outgoing PNP chief Oscar Albayalde, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday.
“Ninja cop” is a police term that refers to rogue officers who pilfer and trade illegal drugs seized during antinarcotic operations.
“While personal relationship plays a major factor in terms of trust and confidence, it should not be the only consideration [in the designation of the next PNP chief],” Lacson told the Inquirer in a text message.
“It should include the service reputation of the officers being considered for appointment,” he said.
The President, Lacson said, has “all the resources at his disposal to secure all available information on those he may consider to appoint” as Albayalde’s successor.
Albayalde’s retirement next month has been overshadowed by the alleged pilferage of 162 kilos of “shabu” (crystal meth) worth P648 million by his subordinates in 2013 when he was the Pampanga police director and his alleged intervention later to save them from dismissal.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Albayalde should consider stepping down ahead of his scheduled retirement on Nov. 8, arguing that it is “almost useless” to put the PNP chief through an administrative investigation.
“Maybe he should consider early retirement. He can say, without admitting anything, that since the prestige and image of the PNP have been tarnished, he’s considering [doing it],” Drilon said.
“For the good of all, Albayalde may consider early retirement, not because he is guilty [but because the PNP leadership must regain some credibility],” he said.
The opposition leader said the alleged involvement of the highest ranking PNP officer in the ninja cop issue had adversely affected the credibility of Mr. Duterte’s bloody war on drugs even more.
“More than 6,000 have been killed for allegedly putting up a fight (against the policemen). This is sad. If you look at the whole context of the antidrug war, how do you think people now look at the drug war?” Drilon said.
“For me, the drug war has somewhat lost credibility because of this [incident],” he added.
The Senate is investigating the ninja cop racket in the PNP, and has sent to jail for lying to the inquiry Maj. Rodney Baloyo, the leader of the police operation in Mexico, Pampanga, in November 2013, when Albayalde was the provincial police director.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a former police director for criminal investigation who had looked into the operation, told the Senate inquiry that Albayalde had phoned Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino and asked him not to enforce an order for the dismissal of Balayo and 12 other officers who carried out the raid.
After hesitating because of threats to his family, Aquino confirmed Magalong’s information at a hearing last week.
Albayalde denies wrongdoing and says the allegations against him must have something to do with his retirement, although he does not explain why it is he and not the top candidate for his successor being targeted by what he calls “character assassination.”
Can still redeem himself
Lacson, himself a former PNP chief, said Albayalde could still redeem himself in his last month in service by letting the ax fall on his erstwhile subordinates for gross violation of the law and the police procedures for conducting antidrug operations.
“It’s not about what should be done [about] Albayalde, but what he should do. He promised during the Senate hearing that he would do everything to rectify the erroneous decision to demote [Baloyo and the other officers] and not dismiss them from the service as stated in the original decision,” he said.
“As long as there are Baloyos in the PNP, the fight against illegal drugs will not be orderly … This should also be a warning to the likes of Baloyo that the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with them,” he added.
Lacson said the PNP should coordinate closely with the intelligence community in ridding law enforcement agencies of rogue officers like Baloyo.
“The PNP … should strengthen and sustain their counterintelligence efforts to identify the likes of Baloyo in their ranks,” he said
“Counterintelligence on organic personnel holding sensitive assignments should always be a continuing task rather than a one-time effort,” he added.
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