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Lying through his teeth (Part Two)

P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV lied so badly that it’s hard to believe any person with average intelligence would buy his story. But there’s one individual who apparently still holds to the sanctity of Baloyo’s testimony: his boss way back in November 2013, now P/Director General Oscar Albayalde.

That’s incredible.

It’s a basic principle in military leadership that a commander must be informed of everything that goes on under his watch at all times. And this dictum is taken very seriously at all levels of command in the armed forces and the national police. No subordinate will even think of doing anything without his commander’s knowledge and approval. The consequences are dire.

This is particularly true for a commander and his intelligence officer. If there is anybody in the unit that a commander trusts over and above anybody else, it’s the intelligence officer. After all, he is the eyes and ears of the commander.

Put these facts together and one reaches the inevitable conclusion that there is a far deeper bond that ties the two. Until Thursday, Albayalde continued to uphold the story of Baloyo, even after the public scolding he got from Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon. He simply refuses to abandon his subordinate. And his subordinate willingly went to jail to protect his version.

Questions. We can only raise questions.

  1. Did Albayalde know beforehand what Baloyo was planning to do, and he gave his approval?
  2. Granting that Albayalde had no knowledge, did he fail to discern the fakery in the after-action report filed by Baloyo?
  3. And after the scandal blew up, didn’t Albayalde look into the evidence of the CIDG and the PNP Regional Office 3 that led to the filing of criminal and administrative cases against Baloyo and his men?

It would seem that Albayalde deliberately ignored the evidence against Baloyo and his men. He played possum all the way. More than that, he was always protective of Baloyo. In a SunStar Pampanga story, Albayalde was quick to defend Baloyo when the latter was relieved of his post as Police Chief of San Fernando, Pampanga in January 2014. Baloyo was just due for schooling for promotion purposes, Albayalde said.

Hence, the biggest question: Is Albayalde covering up for Baloyo, just as Baloyo is covering up for Albayalde?

More than a hundred million pesos of shabu taken from the residence of Johnson Lee flooded the Central Luzon illegal drugs market in the weeks and months after the operation, forcing prices to go down.

Baloyo and his men went on a shopping spree for expensive vehicles than even Camp Crame noticed, and sent investigators headed by then CIDG chief Benjamin Magalong to conduct a probee.

Only Albayalde failed to see the truth, or so it seemed.

Is Baloyo protecting Albayalde to the extent that he was jailed for obvious lying? The Senate justice committee should pursue this angle. The nation deserves to know the truth.

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Under PMA Honor Code, Albayalde should resign

Never before has the Filipino people witnessed a Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) censured publicly, with his sins paraded before live television.

This happened yesterday, Oct. 3, 2019, when Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee of Justice and Human Rights, blew his top over the glaring lies peddled by P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV on the issue of the “agaw-bato” incident in Pampanga that took place six years ago.

In his anger and frustration, Gordon excoriated PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde for “dropping the ball bigtime”, a term in sports journalism to describe a particularly bad error that cost a game for a team.

It was humiliating, to say the least. With that line, Gordon articulated the corrupt brand of leadership shown by Albayalde on the issue of the “ninja cops”, especially with the revelation by PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino, himself a retired Police General, that the PNP Chief had asked him not to dismiss Baloyo and his men three years ago.

In any language, such action of intervening for his former subordinates to prevent their dismissal from the service is improper, unethical and even illegal.

This public scolding didn’t seem to bother Albayalde. He acted as if it was just a routine day for him. He kept washing his hands even when it was clearly proven that both he and Baloyo were lying. He refused to accept responsibility for his actions. He even blamed Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong for bringing these facts into the open.

Albayalde should be reminded of the PMA Honor Code:

“We, the Cadets, do not lie, steal, cheat nor tolerate among us who do so.”

At the very least, he tolerated the web of lies peddled by Baloyo. More than that, Albayalde committed the unethical act of asking then PRO 3 Regional Director Aquino not to axe his men. Clearly, there was a deeper bond between him and Baloyo. As Senator Gordon put it, “everybody is convinced the incident took place in the morning and only you and Baloyo insist that it took place in the afternoon.”

Accept your big blunder. It is a ghost from the past that has haunted  you. Blame nobody else but yourself. The honorable thing to do is resign. That’s what PMA Cadets have been taught not only while at the country’s military academy, but for the rest of their lives.

Ninja cops issue turns uglier

That the so-called “ninja cops” from the Pampanga Provincial Police Office who faked a drug bust and made away with hundreds of millions of pesos worth of shabu are guilty is beyond question at this time. Even the reduction of the penalty in the administrative case from dismissal to demotion did not change the conclusion that these police officers committed grave misconduct.

The one big issue now is the revelation that PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde had asked a fellow general three years ago to tread softly on the case which was then undergoing review of the motion for reconsideration. Albayalde was looking after the welfare of his men. He didn’t want them dismissed no matter how grave their offense was.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Albayalde, who was Pampanga OIC-PD at the time, was fully aware of his men’s actions on November 29, 2013. No intelligence officer would dare embark on such an enterprise without informing his commander. Albayalde knew who the target was, and what his men were about to do. Everything came with his stamp of approval.

Now, Albayalde is PNP Chief. His men are occupying key positions in Central Luzon, albeit with one rank lower. It’s clear he condoned the actions of his men. Instead of giving them hardship assignments, he rewarded them. In effect, he didn’t just allow his men to recycle drugs and thereby make huge profits from this activity. He pampered them afterwards.

It took the bravery of former CIDG Chief Benjamin Magalong for these facts to come to the surface. And it incensed Albayalde. He made it appear that Magalong had ulterior motives in coming out into the open along with PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino. Magalong has reported that he has received death threats. It’s becoming a bitter word war that might spill out into something violent.

Albayalde is clinging to his post when the Honor Code would tell him he should resign. In other countries, being caught in that situation even lead the officials involved to commit suicide. We still remember General Angelo Reyes who took his own life than live in shame.

In case Albayalde hasn’t noticed, Filipinos are now looking at him with suspicion, if not contempt. In this face-off, I can bet that majority of Filipinos are on the side of Magalong.

Drilon was the protector of drug lords in Iloilo

Until now, President Duterte hasn’t fathomed the real picture of illegal drugs in Iloilo City. He has blamed dismissed City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog for the rise of drug lords and their grip on the local community before he came to power. But the truth is that Mabilog was only a pawn. He was never the political boss of Iloilo City. He took orders from Senator Franklin Drilon.

But isn’t it strange that despite the massive reportage and media commentaries on the illegal drugs problem in Iloilo City, Drilon never ever said anything about it? He reads my every blog and Facebook post, and there is no denying he knew about how bad the illegal drugs problem had grown during the years 2010-2016. In fact, I sent him an email sometime in 2012 beseeching him to do something about it. And when the late Melvin “Boyet” Odicta tried to storm into the premises of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on November 19,2015, Drilon squelched the calls for a Senate investigation into the incident, saying it was a minor police matter.

Drilon was not just the political kingpin of Iloilo at the time. All the national government agencies, including the PNP, PDEA and NBI, bowed before him like a demi-god. Only those who received his blessings were given assignments as Regional Directors in Western Visayas, which has Iloilo City as the regional center. Despite such power that he wielded, Drilon never issued orders for the police to crack down on the drug syndicates. What he did was show a fondness for Barangay Monica-Blumentritt Punong Barangay Keith “Dabing” Espinosa, wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, a top lieutenant of the Odicta syndicate.

Kap dabing with drilon

VIP treatment palagi si Kap Dabing Espinosa na asawa ni Jing Jing Espinosa sa mga okasyon ni Drilon.

Drilon with Kap Dabing

And he was always quick to downplay the magnitude of the problem. Not once had he chastised Mabilog, his cousin and protege, about the growth of the syndicates. In short, it was Drilon who gave protection to the syndicates. And it’s time President Duterte took him to task for this crime against the nation.

What? Only one Iloilo City barangay captain in PDEA/DILG narcolist?

The disclosure made by the DILG and PDEA of the 207 barangay officials involved in illegal drugs left many Ilonggos shaking their heads in disbelief. That’s because the three most prominent barangay captains linked to the illegal drugs trade are not on the list. Only one — Barangay Captain Gemma Calzado of Kasing-kasing, Molo — was included in the list. All in all, the DILG and PDEA listed only 90 barangay captains from all over the country as being involved in illegal drugs, either as protectors or in the illicit trade itself.

What happened to Remia Prevendido-Gregori of Bakhaw, Dabing Espinosa of Monica-Blumentritt and Noemi Hablo of Desamparados? To this date, Barangay Bakhaw continues to be the hotbed of the illegal drugs trade in Iloilo City. Gregori is the sister of the slain drug group leader Richard Prevendido. Her son, Bonifacio, is in jail for being a drug dealer.

Dabing Espinosa is the wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, reputed to be the right-hand man of Melvin “Boyet” Odicta who was gunned down with his wife, Miriam, at the Caticlan port in Malay, Aklan on August 29, 2016. His house was raided by the police in October 2016; drugs and firearms were found in his house. Surprisingly, no charges were filed against Dabing despite the fact that the house is conjugal, and she was the incumbent barangay captain. Jing Jing surrendered to the court the next month to start serving an 8-year prison sentence for a crime he had committed several years ago.

Noemi Hablo had even admitted having undergone drug rehabilitation. Her late husband, Rusty, was a known illegal drugs dealer in Iloilo City.

Has the narcolist been sanitized? The DILG and PDEA could lose their credibility with this white-washed narcolist. It will put the drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte under a cloud of doubt. It raises the possibility that the President is being sabotaged by his own people.

Iloilo’s tres Marias

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to disclose to the public the names of 211 barangay captains who are allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade. I’m wondering if the three barangay captains in Iloilo City — all women — whose names have been linked to illegal drugs are included in the list. They are Keith “Dabing” Espinosa of Barangay Monica-Blumentritt, Remia Prevendido-Gregori of Barangay Bakhaw, and Noemi Hablo of Barangay Desamparados.

Espinosa is the wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, who is now serving a prison sentence for the shooting and wounding of an unarmed individual in his barangay more than a decade ago. Jing Jing was reputed to be a right hand man of the slain drug group leader Melvin “Boyet” Odicta, also known in Iloilo as “Dragon”.

Gregori is the sister of another drug group leader, Richard Prevendido, who was also killed in a police raid on Sept. 1, 2017. Her son, Bonifacio Gregori, is now in jail facing drugs charges. Her barangay is notorious as a lair for illegal drugs distribution.

Hablo’s deceased husband, Rusty, was a suspected drug peddler. He fled to Mindanao at the height of the tokhang operations of the police. But he was apprehended there in Mindanao; while in prison, he suffered from a nervous breakdown, and was reported to have committed suicide.

Supreme Court rules: De Lima’s arrest legal

The issue of legality over the arrest of former DOJ Secretary and Senator Leila de Lima has finally been settled by the Supreme Court when it dismissed her motion for reconsideration last Tuesday, April 17, 2018. It means De Lima can no longer play the card of being a victim of persecution (the way she abused her own power when she was DOJ Secretary). She will now have to face the charges against her in a full-blown trial.

Leila de Lima

Photo credit: Jansen Romero/Manila Bulletin

Indeed, even just the frequent visits of De Lima to the National Bilibid Prisons where she partied with convicted drug lords should have been enough to jail her. There was no justification for such closeness with hardened criminals. It lends credence to the allegations that she collected money from the drug lords, thereby making her a party to the illegal drugs trade.

I am appalled the Liberal Party politicians found nothing wrong with such behavior. Well, I guess rubbing elbows with criminals was the norm during their stay in power. The Supreme Court ruling makes De Lima no different from other arrested individuals facing trial, and it’s time the trial courts order her transfer to an ordinary jail.

We must keep in mind that the charges filed against De Lima aren’t political in nature. These involve illegal drugs. She must be incarcerated in the Muntinlupa City jail where other persons facing the same cases are detained. It’s time she doesn’t get special treatment.