Lacson: Aquino appears in ‘quandary’ over fate of 13 Pampanga cops
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino was in a “quandary” over the fate of the 13 Pampanga police officers involved in the controversial drug sting in November 2013, Senator Panfilo Lacson said.
At the resumption of the Senate justice committee’s investigation into the “ninja cops” controversy on Wednesday, Lacson said he received information that Aquino was in a “dilemma” over the case of the Pampanga policemen.
“I received this information that he [Aquino] was in a quandary, actually in a dilemma, dalawang possible recommendation ang pipirmahan niya [he’ll going to sign two possible recommendations],” Lacson said.
However, Aquino denied he was in a quandary.
During a previous hearing, Aquino revealed that Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde once called him up in 2016 to inquire about the 2014 grave misconduct case of 13 Pampanga policemen, who were formerly under the PNP chief’s command when he was Pampanga police director.
Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, meanwhile, alleged that Albayalde intervened with the dismissal case of his subordinates.
“Of course at the time, dismissal na ‘no, pero [but] he was in a dilemma na between someone whose about to retire—referring to Gen. Magalong [who] was supposed to retire in December 2016—and somebody who belongs to the ruling class at the time: Gen. Albayalde. ‘Anong susundin ko dito?’ [Which should I follow],” Lacson went on.
Before this, Lacson had pressed Aquino on why he kept on sending back the case folder of the 13 Pampanga police officers for review.
Aquino was the director of the Region 3 Police Office at the time when a motion for reconsideration was filed on the dismissal order against Albayalde’s men.
A dismissal order was issued against the police officers in 2014 but the motion for reconsideration in place, it was downgraded into a demotion of one rank against the Pampanga policemen in 2017.
In response to Lacson’s question, Aquino said he sent back the case folder for review because the penalty against the involved policemen kept on changing.
“Sinabi ko: ‘I-review mo nga ulit ‘to, kasi paiba-iba eh,’” Aquino said, recalling what he told Police Brigadier Gen. Graciano Mijares, who handed the case folder to the former.
(I said: “Review this again, it keeps on changing.”)
Mijares then told the Senate panel that after he sent the case folder to the legal officer for review, he personally handed it back to Aquino but the latter said he would have it reviewed again.
“I personally handed that same case folder again to Gen. Aquino. I informed him…’Sir, ito na po yung pina-follow up ni Gen. Magalong, dismissal na po, and I can still remember what he [Aquino] said: ‘Ilagay mo lang muna yan sa table ko at papareview ko yan.’ Maybe after a month, Baloyo and several others…natapon na sa iba ibang parts ng region ng Mindanao,” Mijares said.
(I personally handed the same case folder again to Gen. Aquino. I informed him…’Sir, here’s case being followed up by Gen. Magalong, it’s already a dismissal order and I can still remember what he [Aquino] said: ‘Place it on my desk, I will have it reviewed’ and maybe after a month Baloyo and several others…they were sent to different parts of Mindanao.)
He was referring to Police Maj. Rodney Raymundo Louie Baloyo who led the 2013 operation.
After learning this, Lacson said he felt that Aquino’s action “defies logic.”
“Dismissal to demotion, yun ang pina-review mo nung bumalik sayo, dismissal [na]. Pare-review mo ulit? Parang sakin, it defies logic ah,” the senator pointed out.
(Dismissal to demotion, that’s what you want to have reviewed. It’s already a dismissal order when it was sent to you again, and you want to have it reviewed again? For me, that defies logic.)
“Kung ako yung commander, pina-review mo ‘yung demotion bumalik sayo naging dismissal dahil originally dismissal, wala nang katapusang back and forth ito,” he added.
(If I was the commander, you had the demotion reviewed, it was sent back and was changed to a dismissal order, this process would be endless.)
Magalong then said that an underclassman had told him that Aquino was having problems on who to follow with regards to the case of the 13 Pampanga policemen.
“Two weeks ago meron kaming underclass who was then a member of the staff of Gen. Aquino when he was the Regional Director (RD), ang sinabi niya sa aki: ’Sir, alam ko po yung nangyari, dahil nandun po ko sa office ni RD, namomroblema po si RD dahil kung sino ba ang susundin niya, si Gen. Magalong ho ba na about to retire o itong isa na ruling class at isang contender sa chief PNP,” Magalong said.
(Two weeks ago, we had an underclass who was then a member of the staff of Gen. Aquino when he was the Regional Director (RD), he told me: ‘Sir, I know what happened because I was at the RD’s office. He was having problems on who to follow. Gen. Magalong, who was about to retire or someone from the ruling class and a contender for the PNP chief post). /jpv
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