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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.

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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.

Disgraceful, dishonorable conduct

No amount of explaining on the part of P/Director General Oscar Albayalde can justify his conduct (or misconduct) in making a phone call to then Police Regional Director Aaron Aquino of the PRO3 sometime in July 2016.

At that time, Albayalde was the NCRPO Director, the jumping off point to become PNP chief, a post he ultimately got last year. While a junior to Aquino at the PMA, Albayalde already wielded clout, and his phone call certainly helped postpone action on the dismissal of the so-called “ninja cops” of Pampanga.

It was wrong. It was improper. It was disgraceful.

Clearly, Albayalde had no other motive but to help his former subordinates when he was Provincial Director of the Pampanga Provincial Police Office hurdle their case.

In November 2014, then PRO3 Regional Director Raul Petrasanta ordered the dismissal of P/Supt. Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV and 13 other PNP officers in connection with the fake buy-bust on a Chinese national in Mexico, Pampanga.

Investigators discovered that there was no buy-bust. What happened was that Baloyo and his team barged into the residence of a Korean national named Johnson Lee without a search warrant. Lee was able to jump over the fence and surrendered to barangay officials.

Baloyo was the intelligence officer of the Pampanga PNP at the time, a very powerful position.

Baloyo had entered Alibaba’s cave: inside were an estimated 200 kilos of shabu and P55 million. Instead of arresting Lee, Baloyo made a deal with him. Lee would be set free in exchange for P50 million that was in the house. A Toyota Fortuner was to go along with the package.

To make a show of a huge accomplishment, Baloyo reported recovering 38 kilos of shabu and P300,000 in cash.

The show was poorly scripted. It didn’t take long for PNP investigators to establish a trail of lies Baloyo had left behind.

What is clear is that these police officers had committed grave infractions of the law, not just PNP rules and regulations. And based on evidence, they were ordered dismissed.

Somehow, the order of dismissal took so long to be served upon them. The order was signed in November 2014. It was served on them on March 2, 2016. A motion for reconsideration was filed on March 14, 2016.

The MR was pending resolution when Aquino, now PDEA chief, assumed as PRO3 Regional Director. It was then that he got a phone call from Albayalde. The tone of the message was for Aquino to “review” the case. It was an unmistakable request to go softly on the case. When Aquino asked the reason for the request, Albayalde replied: “Mga tauhan ko yan.”

It took another year before the case was resolved, this time by Regional Director Amado Corpuz. The penalty was reduced to demotion by one rank. The Senators found it hard to believe this twist of fate. But it was revealed that Corpuz was the PMA classmate of Albayalde.

It was crystal clear for everybody involved in the investigation that Baloyo and his men had committed a very, very grave offense. Worse, it involved drugs. It came at a time when President Duterte was building on his war versus drugs. And yet here was Albayalde trying to extricate his men involved in a drug deal from their predicament.

I agree with Senator Dick Gordon: Albayalde should resign as PNP chief. His credibility has been tarnished. For his position, that is enough reason to bow out of the office. That’s if he understands what honor and integrity mean.