By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Senate justice and blue ribbon committees will soon divulge the identities of the policemen implicated by former Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) chief Benjamin Magalong in the recycling of seized illegal drugs.
On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved the motion of former PNP chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa to lift the confidentiality rule and authorize the two Senate committees to disclose the revelations made by Magalong during an executive session last week.
Senate rules state that information gathered from an executive session are strictly confidential. A two-thirds vote, or a minimum of 16 votes, of the 24-member chamber is needed to lift its confidentiality rule.
After their discussion on the Senate rules, all the 17 members present in the plenary voted in favor of Dela Rosa’s request.
Prior to approving the disclosure of the names tagged in the alleged drug recycling, the senators discussed in a caucus the information shared by Magalong, now incumbent mayor of Baguio City, during the executive session with the justice and blue ribbon committees last September 19.
The former PNP-CIDG director supposedly named high ranking PNP officials as having been involved or had knowledge on the so-called “agaw-bato” scheme, where rogue cops aor the so-called ninja cops allegedly keep some of the confiscated illegal drugs for re-selling.
Dela Rosa, during the evening session, stood up to ask his colleagues to allow the justice committee to make public Magalong’s exposès to allay speculations tagging PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde in the modus.
“Mr. President, since that executive session was made during the GCTA hearing, I think, to be fair to the ones that is being alluded to, I would like to have the records or the contents of that executive session be made available to those who are interested so that the truth shall prevail,” Dela Rosa said when asked by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on the reason behind his motion.
“So that speculations, Mr. President, because the accused is, recently, the chief of the Philippine National Police. And it would be very unfair if doubts are being cast on him,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III supported Dela Rosa’s motion and said allowing the Blue Ribbon Committee to divulge the contents of the executive session will “once and for all remove all the cloud of doubt on anyone that has been named” in the issue.
Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs both the justice and blue ribbon committees, was indisposed and absent in the Senate Tuesday, prompting the chamber to “suspend” the rule requiring his committee’s approval of such motion.
Sotto also noted that a “unanimous” vote from the Senate plenary should prevail over the committee.
With the authority given by the Senate, the justice and blue ribbon committees are expected to disclose the minutes of the discussion with Magalong.
The Gordon-led panels will continue its hearing on the implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law and other corruption issues in the New Bilibid Prison on October 1.
Dela Rosa, earlier on Tuesday, vouched for Albayalde’s character, who he appointed as the regional director for Metro Manila when he was PNP chief.
Albayalde was also his classmate in the Philippine Military Academy.