Demotion, not dismissal, of Pampanga 'ninja cops' irks Sotto

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2019 10:32 AM | Updated as of Oct 03 2019 03:29 PM

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MANILA — Senate President Tito Sotto said Thursday he wants to find out how former subordinates of Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde evaded dismissal from the service over allegations that they recycled confiscated narcotics.

Albayalde was chief of the Pampanga police in 2013 when around 13 of its officers were accused of pilfering some 160 kilos of shabu in an operation against a suspected Chinese drug lord.

A dismissal order against the officers was issued in 2014 but they filed a motion for reconsideration 2 years later, which eventually downgraded their penalty to demotion, Albayalde earlier said.

"Wala akong nakikitang magandang basehan kaya ito siguradong nagkaroon ng hindi magandang pangyayari na sabi ko nga, manghuhula tayo at this point," Sotto said of the penalty.

(I do not see a good basis so something unpleasant surely occurred here, which as I've said, we could only speculate on at this point.)

The downgraded penalty against the officers was approved by former Central Luzon police chief Maj. Gen. Amador Corpus.

"Ungkatin ulit natin mamaya... Anong pinagbasehan niya?" he said.

(We will scrutinize it again later... What was his basis?)

The Senate on Thursday will resume its inquiry into recycled drugs and alleged corruption in the prison system.

In a previous hearing, former police official Benjamin Magalong accused Albayalde of asking President Rodrigo Duterte not to implement the dismissal order against the Pampanga police officers.

Albayalde denied this, but admitted that sometime in 2016, he called PDEA chief Aaron Aquino, who was then chief of the Central Luzon police, to ask for an update on the case of the Pampanga officers.

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The PNP is prepared to give senators additional information on the case, said its spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac.

"Base na rin sa mga bagong ebidensya na ipinirisinta, maaaring nagkaroon ng bagong appreciation ng kaso at ang ini-recommend nila (Office of the Regional Director) ay demotion na lamang ng rank," he said in a separate DZMM interview.

"Inaasahan na lamang natin na ito ay lalo pang maliliwanagan ngayong patuloy na pagdinig sa Senado, ang mga detalye ay lalo pa nating makita," he said.

(Based on new evidence presented, there could have been a new appreciation of the case and the Office of the Regional Director recommended demotion of their ranks. We expect that this will be clarified when the Senate resumes it hearing, we will see the details.)

The 13 officers, he said, have been placed on "floating status" and relieved of anti-narcotics duties.