By Mario Casayuran
Slowly but surely, the dots are being connected for the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon and the Committee on Justice to form a conclusion that then colonel and now Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde maybe accused as an accessory to the fact.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, a former PNP chief from 1998 to 2001, made this assessment after noting that the additional testimonies and documents presented in last Wednesday’s committee hearing have reinforced the other circumstantial evidence earlier gathered in previous hearings of the joint Senate committee.
Lacson is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice chaired by Senator Richard J. Gordon.
He cited the bombshell exploded by retired PNP General Rudy Lacadin that Albayalde had called him up and told him that he (Albayalde) got a “little” from the police raid in Mexico, Pampanga, where only 38 kilos of the 200 kilos of “shabu”(crystal meth) were turned over to the PNP Region 3 headquarters.
Following Lacadin’s revelation, Albayalde threatened to sue him. Albayalde even said that Lacadin would have “a lot of explaining to do and he will have his day in court.”
Lacson said testimonies in the hearing at the very least show a cover-up of the erring policemen, led by Major Rodney Baloyo, the head of the raiding team.
This was the same assessment made by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III earlier.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon shared Sotto’s observation in last Wednesday joint hearing that there is indeed a cover up.
There were allegations that the owner of the house, Johnson Lee, a South Korean, was held “captive” and freed after a P50-million ransom was paid.
Last Tuesday night, Senator Gordon handed a letter to the South Korean ambassador requesting that Johnson Lee be turned over to his committee.
Asked on what is the next best thing for Albayalde to do now, Lacson replied: “The best thing for him to do is what I asked on Wednesday if he was willing to do – in case the Napolcom (National Police Commission), which is already reviewing the case of Baloyo et al, would issue a resolution to dismiss Baloyo from the PNP, he should be the first to sign to concur to which he replied in the affirmative.”
The PNP chief is an ex-officio member of the Napolcom. Albayalde may still create doubt on the overwhelming perception that he is covering up for them, Lacson pointed out.
At Wednesday’s hearing Gordon said Albayalde could face at the very least a charge of neglect of duty. Because of this possibility, Gordon advised Albayalde on Thursday to get a good lawyer to defend him.
Gordon said the circumstantial evidence show that the dismissal order for 13 of Albayalde’s men took four years to tackle only to end in demotion and their posting to other provinces.
Baloyo, 12 others summoned
Police Major Rodney Baloyo and 12 other so-called “ninja cops” have been summoned to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on October 16 to face the criminal complaint against them concerning the questionable 2013 illegal drugs operations in Pampanga.
The special panel of prosecutors handling the case has issued the subpoenas, which ordered Baloyo and his 12 co-respondents to appear on the scheduled preliminary investigation hearing of the complaint.
“Under and by virtue of the authority vested in us by law and Department Order No. 528 issued on 07 October 2019, you are hereby directed to appear for the reinvestigation of the above-captioned complaint and to submit any additional evidence before us on October 16, 2019 at 10:00’clock in the morning,” read the subpoena in part.
“Fail not under the penalty of law,” the subpoena warned.
Aside from Baloyo, also summoned were Senior Inspector Joven Bognot De Guzman Jr., SPO1 Jules Lacap Maniago, SPO1 Donald Castro Roque, SPO1 Ronald Bayas Santos, SPO1 Rommel Munoz Vital, SPO1 Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio, SPO1 Eligio Dayos Valeroso, PO3 Dindo Singian Dizon, PO3 Gilbert Angeles De Vera, PO3 Encarnacion Guerrero Jr., PO2 Anthony Loleng Lacamana, and PO3 Dante M. Dizon.
Just last Monday (Oct. 7), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued Department Order No. 528 which created a special panel of prosecutors who will conduct a re-investigation of the dismissed cases against the 13 so-called “ninja cops”.
The panel is composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez and Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina Dugay and Gino Paulo Santiago.
“The Special Panel of Prosecutors is hereby directed to immediately conduct the necessary hearings and resolve the case within thirty days from date hereof. If warranted by the evidence, the Special Panel of Prosecutors is further directed to file the corresponding information before the appropriate court,” read the order.
Citing Section 11 of the 2000 National Prosecution Service Rules on Appeal, Guevarra explained it authorizes him “to order the conduct of a reinvestigation of cases whenever deemed necessary.”
The case concerns the 2013 illegal drugs operations in Pampanga where the 13 policemen involved in the operations allegedly kept 160 kilograms of shabu as well as received P50 million and new sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in exchange for the release of alleged Chinese drug trader Johnson Lee, who turned out to be a South Korean.
Following the operation, the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) filed before the DOJ a criminal complaint against the 13 policemen, led by Baloyo at that time.
The 13 were charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), particularly Sections 27 (misappropriation), 29 (planting), and 32 (custody and disposition).
However, the case was dismissed in 2017 by prosecutors who conducted the preliminary investigation then.
The PNP-CIDG eventually appealed the dismissal before the DOJ by filing a petition for review. (With a report from Jeffrey G. Damicog)