Albayalde on graft charges: ‘My conscience remains clear’

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

FORMER Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde on Friday, January 17, insisted on his innocence and welcomed the decision to file charges against him, saying it will be an opportunity to clear his name.

The former PNP chief was reacting to the Department of Justice resolution that found probable cause to charge him for corruption in connection with his alleged involvement in the highly irregular anti-drugs operation conducted by 13 Pampanga policemen in November 2013.

“I welcome this development as the chance to once and for all clear my name in the proper forum. Finally, I will have my day in court,” he said in a message to reporters.

“My conscience remains clear, and I am confident that the truth will bear me out in the end,” he added.

In a statement on Thursday, January 16, the DOJ said prosecutors found probable cause to charge Albayalde with graft.

The former PNP chief was found to have failed to implement an order "which sought to penalize the police officers involved in the questioned drug operation.”

His violation was "persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations in connection with the official duties of the latter," and "for causing any undue injury to any party, including the government," under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the DOJ said.

The resolution will be forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Albayalde relinquished his post on October 14, 2019, more than three weeks before his mandatory retirement on November 8, after he was implicated in the anomalous operation.

Albayalde was the Pampanga police provincial director when 13 men under him conducted an operation in Mexico town, arrested a suspect but presented another person as suspect, and declared the confiscation of 36 kilograms of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride when the actual volume seized was more than 200 kilograms.

The irregular operation was the subject of a Senate investigation on ninja cops, the term used for policemen who sell or recycle illegal drugs that were seized during legitimate police operations.

Charges were filed against Albayalde and the 13 policemen, but these were dismissed for lack of evidence.

Albayalde went on to become National Capital Region (NCR) police director and eventually PNP chief while the 13 policemen were demoted.

The charges against them were revived following the Senate investigation.

Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who earlier vouched for Albayalde’s character and integrity, said he respects and welcomes the findings of the Justice department.

“It is an opportunity for Albayalde to defend himself in a forum or atmosphere where his constitutional rights will be observed and duly guaranteed,” Año said in a statement.

“At the same time the DOJ finding does not contradict the DILG as probable cause merely engenders a well-founded belief that Albayalde is only probably guilty on the criminal side. Let justice take its course,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)