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Albayalde steps down as PNP chief

Lt. Gen. Gamboa named officer-in-charge

Updated

By Aaron Recuenco

General Oscar Albayalde has relinquished his post as chief of the 190,000-strong Philippine National Police (PNP) amid the controversy hound­ing him over a drug recycling issue.

FAREWELL SPEECH - Philippine National Police (PNP) chief-on-leave Gen. Oscar Albayalde addresses his men during the regular flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday when he announced that he was relinquishing his post. (Photo courtesy of PNP-Public Information Office / Toti Navales)

FAREWELL SPEECH – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief-on-leave Gen. Oscar Albayalde addresses his men during the regular flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday when he announced that he was relinquishing his post. (Photo courtesy of PNP-Public Information Office / Toti Navales)

“After careful thought and delib­eration, I have come to the decision to relinquish my post as chief PNP effective today (Monday) and go on a non-duty status,” said Albayalde, who is set to retire on November 8, the day he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56.

“I have submitted my let­ter of intent to Interior Secre­tary (Eduardo) Año which he accepted and favorably endorsed to the Presi­dent,” he added.

Año said he forwarded Albayalde’s letter of intent to the President, who accepted it.

With this development, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa will assume as officer-in-charge of the PNP until President Duterte appoints Albayalde’s successor, Año said.

READ MORE: Gamboa is PNP’s OIC

“The most senior police official is Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa and he shall be in an acting capacity as officer-in-charge until such time that the President ap­points a permanent chief PNP,” said Año in an interview over CNN Philippines.

The chief PNP has been at the center of the controversy in the past few weeks over allegations that he benefitted from the alleged recycling of more than 160 kilos of shabu by 13 of his men while he was still the provincial director of Pam­panga on November 29, 2013.

There was also an allegation that his men took P10 million from the house of suspected drug lord Johnson Lee who was allegedly arrested during the opera­tion but was freed after allegedly paying at least P50 million.

What pinned Albayalde down dur­ing the Senate probe was when then Central Luzon regional police chief and now Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said that he called him up to ask not to implement the dismissal order against the 13 cops, led by Maj. Rodney Baloyo.

Another retired general, Rudy Laca­din, claimed that Albayalde told him in a phone conversation that he got “little” from the Pampanga operation.

By filing for a non-duty status and following its approval, Albayalde will leave the PNP chief post vacant but will remain as an active member of the police organization.

It also means that he will retain his four-star rank.

Since only one police official is entitled to a four-star rank in the PNP, his replacement will only get the four-star rank after Albayalde retires on November 8.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go had earlier said President Duterte is choosing among three contenders for the top PNP.

They are Lt. Gen. Gamboa, currently the No. 2 man being the Deputy Chief for Administration; Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascol­an, the No. 3 man being the Deputy Chief for Operations; and Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the No. 4 man being the Chief Directorial Staff.
Gamboa and Cascolan belong to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1986.

Albayalde and his predecessor, now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, are also from PMA Class 1986.

Eleazar is from PMA Class 1987.

“Since I am retiring compulsory on November 8, this will pave the way for the appointment of my replacement if the President so desires,” said Albay­alde.

Farewell

It was the last flag-raising ceremony for Albayalde on Monday where he an­nounced his decision to relinquish the top PNP post. It came as a surprise to a lot of policemen.

In his speech, Albayalde again de­fended himself from allegations that he tried to whitewash the investigation on the Pampanga drug raid and even intervened to protect his men.

He also told policemen not to be af­fected by the controversy.

“I thank the men and women of the Philippine National Police for their hard work, loyalty and dedication to the service and for helping me face the challenges and achieve the objectives I set forth during my term as chief PNP,” said Albayalde.

“My last command as your chief PNP is for you to carry on in the service of our fellow Filipinos so that all of us may live and work in peace. Do not let this challenges demoralize or stray you from your path,” he added.

Año commended Albayalde “for his selfless act in order to spare the PNP or­ganization of the on-going controversy’’ with regards to his illegal drug links.

READ MORE: Año commends Albayalde for ‘selfless, honorable act’ in relinquishing PNP post

In branding it as an honorable act, Año said he respects Albayalde’s deci­sion to relinquish his position.

With Albayalde’s decision to quit, Año said this will allow the PNP to move on and continue exercising its mandate of protecting and serving the people.

“I thank him for his dedicated and distinguished service as head of the PNP,” he added.

No yet off the hook

Despite Albayalde’s decision to step down, senators said he is not yet off the hook from the controversy surround­ing him.

“His continued stay as PNP chief has become untenable. His resignation ahead of his mandatory retirement, however, will not in any way clear him from his liability, both administratively or criminally, in connection with the Pampanga ninja cops issue,” Drilon said.

“Albayalde’s continued defense, and his failure to condemn the acts of Major Rodney Baloyo and his men in the face of the evidence indicated complicity to the criminal conduct of his men,” Drilon stressed.

Drilon, a former Senate president and former Justice secretary in the Cory Aquino presidency, is among the first to call for Albayalde’s resignation “in order to save the PNP from embarrassment.

Drilon lamented “Albayalde’s lack of sense of justice” for failing to, at the very least, condemn the illegal acts commit­ted by his men.
Worse, he said the former PNP chief may have had a hand in the cover-up, he stressed.

READ MORE: Drilon: Albayalde not off the hook

Senator Risa Hontiveros welcomed Albayalde’s decision to step down ahead of his retirement, saying it was appropri­ate but doesn’t guarantee a closure on the controversy about “ninja cops.”

Hontiveros said she believes there would be no let up on the part of the Senate to investigate the alleged in­volvement of some police officials in the recycling of illegal drugs seized in anti-narcotics operation.

“I welcome the decision of General Oscar Albayalde, my mistah, to relin­quish his post as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

READ MORE: Albayalde’s decision to step down ‘appropriate, but not closure of ninja cops issue’ – Hontiveros

Senate President Vicente Sotto III declined to comment on Albayalde’s decision to step down as the country’s top cop.

READ MORE: PNP Chief’s resignation does not end controversy

“Kapag may sugat ang ibang tao, ayoko nang lagyan ng asin (I don’t want to add insult to the injury of the person). I’d rather just wait for events to unfold,” Sotto told reporters in a text message. (With reports from Mario Casayuran, Hannah Torregoza, Vanne Terra­zola, and Chito Chavez)

READ MORE: Palace: Albayalde probably had enough

READ MORE: Lacson distresses from abrupt end of fellow Peemayer’s service

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