MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday stood by its comrades tagged in the reselling of confiscated illegal drugs in 2013, saying former police chief Oscar Albayalde and 13 other so-called "ninja cops" "remain innocent until proven guilty."
"All accused remain innocent until proven guilty," the PNP said in a statement, a day after a Senate panel recommended the filing of criminal charges against Albayalde and his men.
"The PNP will let justice, fairness, and due process of law take its course," the statement read.
It is up to Albayalde and other involved police personnel to "address the other side issues that may come with their possible criminal indictment as recommended by the Senate panel," it said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, led by Sen. Richard Gordon, earlier released a preliminary report saying the former police chief and his men violated provisions of anti-graft and anti-drug laws when they allegedly sold at least 160 kilograms of shabu worth around P648 million seized in a raid in 2013.
The 13 "ninja cops" tried to cover up the incident, while Albayalde intervened in the implementation of sanctions against his former subordinates, the panel said in its report.
The PNP admitted that President Rodrigo Duterte was dismayed over the controversy that cast doubt on the police force's capability to be on the frontline of the government's war on drugs.
"We fully understand his (Duterte's) frustrations and misgivings over the recent turn of events involving some PNP personnel. But we will not let him down," the PNP said.
"We assure our people that the PNP remains on track with renewed vigor to reform itself into the ideal shape to fight crime, illegal drugs, and corruption," the agency said.
Duterte earlier warned "ninja cops" and rogue police officers that he could be "more evil" than them and "create hell for everybody" in his last 2 years in office.