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Senate seen to OK ‘ninja cops’ report

MANILA, Philippines — The joint Senate committee report that recommended graft charges against 14 police officers, including former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde, will likely be approved unanimously, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

The draft joint report of the blue ribbon and justice committees, headed by Sen. Richard Gordon, said the police officials, dubbed “ninja cops,” should be charged for allegedly pilfering and reselling 162 kilos of narcotics seized during a 2013 operation.

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The controversy stemming from the revelations led Albayalde to resign as PNP chief on Monday shortly before his scheduled retirement.

Unanimous approval

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Sotto, who is out of the country but has read the report, said in a radio interview that he expected senators to approve the report.

“I think it will be unanimous. I’ve read it. It’s very accurate as far as the hearings were concerned … It’s a faithful reproduction of the hearing,” Sotto said over dwIZ.

The entire Senate would have to accept the report and it is expected to be taken up when sessions resume in November.

Sotto said officials should be held accountable for the pilferage and reselling of the seized drugs but stressed it would have to go through the usual legal process.

Sotto also criticized Albayalde’s answers during the Senate hearing and surmised that the police chief’s responses further incriminated him.

“That is not the proper response,” Sotto said. “He should have answered by disputing the allegations and disclosing what really happened. To the Senate, it seemed he was a using a different defense mechanism.”

During the hearing, former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who investigated the 2013 Pampanga operation, testified that the police actually seized some 200 kilos of “shabu” but only reported 38 kilos.

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Magalong also said the operatives arrested suspect Johnson Lee, but freed him purportedly in exchange for P50 million and arrested another man to serve as fall guy.

At the time of the operation, Albayalde was the Pampanga police chief.

Moreover, Magalong testified that Albayalde tried to stop a 2016 dismissal order against the operatives by calling up then Central Luzon police director Aaron Aquino.

Under another official, their penalty was later downgraded to a one-rank demotion.

Albayalde, who was administratively relieved pending that 2016 investigation, was not included in the case against them.

PNP seeks due process

Meanwhile, the PNP said in a statement that it would let “justice, fairness and due process of law” take their course.

“All accused remain innocent until proven guilty,” said Police Brig. Edward Banac, PNP spokesperson, in the face of another probe on supposed violations of criminal procedure on the killings of drug suspects in purportedly legitimate police operations.

The Makabayan bloc of congressmen sought a probe into why the PNP only submitted 253 cases for inquest proceedings when the police reported 5,793 drug suspects were killed in antidrug operations.

An inquest is a summary investigation conducted by a public prosecutor in a criminal case involving persons arrested and detained without a warrant of arrest.

Citing the Revised PNP operation procedures manual, Makabayan lawmakers said the police should submit for inquest an operation where a suspect was killed in an armed confrontation.

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TAGS: ninja cops, Oscar Alabayalde, Richard Gordon, Senate, Vicente Sotto III
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