Gordon: Albayalde indictment a mere ‘slap on the wrist’
Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday questioned the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file only a graft complaint against former Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde for the alleged pilferage of 200 kilograms of “shabu” (crystal meth) seized in a drug sting in Pampanga six years ago, saying the charge was a mere “slap on the wrist.”
Gordon, who led the Senate inquiry into the “ninja cops” controversy as chair of the blue ribbon and justice committees, said Albayalde should have been indicted for conspiracy under Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which imposes life term on public officials for failure to account “confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs.”
He had previously said Albayalde and 12 of his former subordinates should be sentenced to life imprisonment for carrying out the unlawful antidrug operation at an upscale subdivision in Mexico town, Pampanga province, on Nov. 29, 2013.
Albayalde, then a police senior superintendent, was then the head of the Pampanga police office.
“This is really a conspiracy and that it involved [violation of] the dangerous drugs law,” Gordon told reporters.
“It sounds like they are trying to give him a free pass,” he said.
‘Right thing to do’
Other senators, however, welcomed the DOJ’s action, with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon saying that filing graft and other criminal charges against Albayalde et al. was the “right thing to do.”
“Anything less than that would have been a mockery and a slap in the face of Philippine justice system,” Drilon, a former justice secretary, said.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, President Duterte’s former longtime aide, said the criminal indictment of Albayalde would help the administration’s “internal cleansing” of the bureaucracy and in restoring public trust in the PNP.
Malacañang, for its part, said it would let the law take its course in the graft raps against Albayalde, who now has all legal remedies to defend himself in court.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government’s firm antidrug stance would remain steadfast, especially against “police officers who abuse their authority.”
But the PNP said its former chief deserved to be presumed innocent in the graft charges filed against him.
“[Albayalde] remains innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in a statement on Friday.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Friday said he was “not rejoicing” upon learning about the graft charges to be filed against Albayalde.
The mayor testified against the so-called ninja cops during last year’s Senate inquiry.“I am just sad that the leadership of the PNP—the highest ranking official—has a tainted reputation,” Magalong said.
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