The former head of the Philippines national police force is facing a criminal complaint in relation to the alleged resale of confiscated drugs
Gen. Oscar Albayalde stepped down last Monday amid drug allegations
President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war chief who oversaw the extra-judicial killing of thousands resigned after 13 of his officers were exposed as dealers
Today a criminal complaint was filed against him and 13 of his officers for a controversial 2013 drug bust when Albayalde was the acting police chief of Pampanga region
The improperly constituted team allegedly were bribed by a targeted drug lord to arrest his rival, instead
Furthermore a large methamphetamine haul by police raiding team was under reported and ‘sold off’
Whistleblowers allege then regional police chief, Oscar Albayalde, benefited from the proceeds and later participated in a coverup operation
Gen. Albayalde has denied improper conduct, demanding due process to ‘clear is name’
Critics point out that thousands of victims of Duterte’s drug war were not afforded that due process, on his watch
General Oscar Albayalde stepped down last Monday amid the “ninja cops” controversy, which alleges he was protecting police officers involved in trading illegal drugs.
Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde it is alleged, was involved in what seemed to be a “grand cover-up” to protect his underlings from dismissal from service over a 2013 case.
During his time in the role, Albayalde led President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs which has resulted in the deaths of thousands in controversial circumstances.
Duterte’s signature anti-narcotics campaign is key to his massive popularity among Filipinos. As part of his internationally condemned initiative, police have killed thousands of alleged dealers and users since mid-2016, but critics say the wealthy and powerful have been largely untouched. Albayalde has denied the charges that he helped officers who were trading the confiscated drugs. He said he welcomed the investigation so he could be given ‘due process’ into the 2013 incident, a right which critics say many of the victims of the drug killings were never afforded by Duterte’s regime.
Gen. Oscar Albayalde seen [left], with Rodrigo Duterte, led the president’s war on drugs which has resulted in the deaths of thousands in controversial circumstances
The police complaint stemmed from Albayalde’s role as commander of police unit near Manila in 2013 where officers under his supervision allegedly seized and sold a huge haul of narcotics and received bribes to release a drug suspect. He was accused by a former police official of intervening to protect his officers from sanctions.
It is alleged that on November 29, 2013, when Albayalde was the acting police chief of Pampanga. a dozen police officers from Pampanga conducted a buy-bust operation in Mexico, Pampanga which led to the recovery of 36.68 kilos of metamphetamine hydrochloride [shabu] and a P100,000 marked money. The team headed by ex-Pampanga anti-illegal drug operations task group chief Joven de Guzman Jr, were supposed to go after the Chinese drug lord Johnson Lee, The team conducts a buy-bust operation leading to the arrest of a drug suspect named Johnson Lee. The team were bribed by principal target Johnson Lee with $9.8million [P50 million], to let him go and instead arrest a fall guy identified as Ding Wenkun, another suspected drug dealer, a tribunal investigating the case later heard in testimony. The team allegedly also seized 200 kilograms of the drug shabu, but only declared the seizure of 38 kg. The police team also failed to include agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency [PDEA] agent and a barangay official in the operation. Subsequently members of the 13 man team were charged for violating Section 27 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, or mishandling of drug-related evidence. They faced life imprisonment and a fine between $9,800 [P500,000], and $195,000 [P10 million], if convicted. The 13 officers were charged in May 2014, while Albayalde was sacked from his post by then-Central Luzon police chief Brigadier General Raul Petrasanta in line with “command responsibility.” The Chief stated that “[the debacle was] due to [Albayalde’s] failure to take corrective action at his level despite the chance given to him to do so”. In May 2016, the case concluded with the team finally receiving their dismissal order, but they are given 12 days to contest the decision of the regional and national headquarters. At this point then Brigadier General Aaron Aquino replaced retiring Brigadier General Rudy Lacadin as Central Luzon police chief. However in July 2016, Oscar Albayalde was appointed chief of the National Capital Region Police Office. Shortly after, in late 2016, Albayalde called Aquino to ask about the case of the 13 policemen the latter testified at an October 1 hearing on the case. He told me, “Sir, for the meantime, maybe you can have that reviewed, because I want to know what will happen to the result of that investigation. Because, Sir, those are my people” Aquino told the tribunal. Former police chief Albayalde admitted to the tribunal that the call indeed happened, but denied trying to influence Aquino: “Yes, I asked for the status – only the status. I could not possibly influence an RD or an upperclass…It’s normal but never in one time did I ask for any favor. I was asking for the status.”
The criminal charges against the officers allegedly involved in the matter were dismissed in 2017, however, prosecutors have now re-opened the case and summoned the men for questioning. A Senate inquiry this month recommended that Albayalde and 13 officers under his command face various charges related to the incident. The criminal complaint was filed today by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
The Department of Justice will now decide whether to prosecute the 14.
This comes as the national police announced Monday it has dismissed three Philippine National Police (PNP) officers involved in another controversial drug raid this year.
‘We admit that the recent controversy involving the PNP has shaken the institution at its core,’ acting police chief Archie Gamboa said in a statement.
He announced changes to key leadership positions and put promotions on hold.
‘Each one will strictly be held accountable for what his or her unit does or fails to do,’ he said.
Serving in his role since 2018, Gen Albayalde was the second national police chief to enforce the government’s controversial crackdown on drugs.
President Rodrigo Duterte launched the anti-narcotics campaign in 2016, to deal with a rampant drug problem in the country.
Human rights groups allege many of the killings in the operations are summary executions, carried out without giving the suspects a chance to defend themselves in a court of law.